16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether half of the profits resulting from the resale of Australian greasy wool by the British Government will be returned to growers after the war?
– That is a part of the agreement in respect of wool sold to foreign countries.
Conditions of Australian Service
– Some months ago I asked the Minister for the Army a question regarding the privileges of members of the Australian Imperial Force serving in Darwin and places adjacent to the Australian coast. I now ask the honorable gentleman whether the Government has yet decided to grant to those members the same privileges in respect of post-war employment and other matters as will be accorded to their comrades now serving overseas ?
– I have answered similar questions on more than one occasion. Some weeks ago, the Government announced its decision that deferred pay conditions would apply to members of the Australian Imperial Force serving at Darwin and other stations in Australia and Australian territories after a period of six months, or on transfer to an operational station whichever might be the earlier. The whole problem of post-war employment is under consideration at the present time.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s statement that he is unable to maintain stable government, for how long does the right honorable gentleman propose to continue his sit-down strike?
– I terminate it now by standing up and telling the honorable gentleman that I have made no such statement. What I said was that the Government could not command a constant majority in the House. This is a state of affairs which I commend to the consideration of the honorable gentleman.
– Does the Prime Minister consider it wise to permit the broadcasting of statements such as that which waa broadcast from station 2UE on Sunday night last, to the effect that a ;bomb which had been found in the Middle East contained a message from Posen stating that Polish munition workers would not assist the Germans by placing detona>tor3 in the bombs that they manufactured ? Some time ago the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that a bomb which was found in Britain contained a similar message from Chechoslovakian munition workers. Is it wise to announce to the world that these peoples are sabotaging the German war effort?
– I am not familiar with this matter but I shall look into it a t once.
– Is the Prime Minister able to make a statement to the House concerning the entry of British and Soviet troops into Iran, and will he state whether any Australian Imperial Force divisions are engaged in that country or are intended to be so engaged?
– As to the entry of British and Soviet forces into Iran, the position is as has been stated in the press. Certain activities by Germans were proceeding in that country. The Government was requested to restrain or terminate those activities. It was not willing to do so, and, having regard to the tremendous strategic importance of Iran in relation to Russia and our own vital position in the Middle East, a warning was given to the Government of Iran ; following that, military action of the kind described in the cable messages was taken. The Government has no information which would suggest the use of any Australian forces in that theatre, and I have every reason to believe that, in fact, no Australians are being used.
– The Government would be consulted first, would it not?
– Yes, and that is why I say that I have every reason to believe that no Australian forces are being used in that theatre. Before Australian forces can be used in any new theatre of war, consultation must take place with the Government of Australia.
– At the beginning cf this year, the Government intimated that a review would be made of the list of reserved occupations for war service. As so much time has elapsed since that announcement was made, I now ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he is in a position to state when the new schedule of reserved occupations will be announced.
– A review of the list of reserved occupations proceeds continually through the special Man-power Committee which was established for that purpose. Recently a Man-power Priority Board was established; its four members are Mr. Wurth, chairman of the Public Service Board in New South Wales, a representative of employers, a representative of employees, and a representative of the fighting services. That board has been sitting for a number of days at its first meeting, and has presented its first report to me. I have been giving consideration to the report to-day. The schedule of reserved occupations will be revised by that board in more detail in. the course of the next few weeks.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether any arrangements have been made to prevent the lapsing of insurance policies held by men who join the fighting services?
– Yes, for some time past such arrangements have been made, and the only point still in doubt concerns accident policies, which are renewable yearly. These are now receiving attention, but it seems to me that considerations affecting life insurance policies have little or no application to accident policies.
– Oan the Minister in charge of national emergency services state whether it is a fact that, at a meeting of State and Commonwealth representatives called to discuss national emergency matters, he ruled out of order two motions submitted by Mr. Heffron, one of which sought to place the responsibility for air raid precautions on the Commonwealth, whilst the other sought increased Commonwealth financial assistance? Was the action of the Minister in this regard an indication that the Commonwealth Government refuses to accept full responsibility for air raid precautions, and that it does not intend to make any further financial contributions towards this work?
– It is true that I ruled out of order two motions submitted at the conference in Melbourne by Mr. Heffron, Minister in charge of national emergency services in New South Wales. My reason for doing so was that the matters raised had been discussed at a conference in Canberra on the 8th August when certain decisions were reached. With the exception of the
Premier of South Australia, no one present at the conference in Melbourne yesterday was in a position to bind his State on financial matters, and I was not in a position to bind the Commonwealth. I draw the honorable member’s attention to the agreement entered into by the States and the Commonwealth, in March, 1939, under which the States accented responsibility for air raid precautions in the States. However, these matters are not static, and any arrangements reached are not unalterable like the laws of the Medes and the Persians. They will, as I indicated at the conference, be reviewed from time to time as need arises.
– Will the Minister for Commerce say whether any action has been taken to stabilize the barley industry in a similar way to the wheat industry scheme ?
– No action has been taken up to the present, but consideration is being given to the matter.
– Has any information been received by the Government regarding the hoarding of petrol by certain wealthy private persons, including Colonel Michael Bruxner, Mr. McCarthy, of Tenterfield and Mr. Edmund Resch, of Darling Point, Sydney, the well-known brewer, to whom supplies were made available by the Atlantic Oil Company! Have any inquiries been made into this matter, and if so, what was the result?
– I shall inquire into the matter, and supply the information to the honorable member later.
– Will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House setting out in what manner Australia will be associated with the United States of America lease-lend plan? Will goods, other than actual war material, or material needed for war production, be brought into Australia under the plan? How does the Government propose to dispose of the goods brought in, and will the scheme have any effect on our tariff policy? What ultimate effect does the Prime Minister think that the lease-lend plan will have upon Australian secondary industries in general? When will the first shipment of lease-lend goods arrive in Australia ?
– All the points raised by the honorable member are of first-class importance, but unfortunately they are not yet by any means settled. Discussions are going on between our representatives in the United States of America, the British Purchasing Commission, and the American Administration. We also have officers working on the scheme at this end. As soon as I am in a position to make a statement I shall do so.
Paymentof Income Tax - Liaison Offices in Rhodesia - Idle Skilled Workers.
– On the 21st August, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) asked a question regarding the liability of members of the Royal Australian Air Force attached to the Royal Air Force in England to pay British income tax. I told him then that, as the result of representations to the Government of the United Kingdom, the claim had been withdrawn. I am now in a position to state that, as a result of further representations, the Government of the United Kingdom has given instructions for the immediate refunding of any tax already paid.,
– Is it a fact that the Minister for Air has received an offer from an Australian who served with the New South Wales Lancers in the South African war, and who is now a member of the Rhodesian Parliament, to act as liaison officer between Australia and the Australians who are being trained in Rhodesia under the Empire air training scheme? Has the Government given the offer consideration ? If it has, and should it feel that the gentleman concerned would not himself be suitable for such a position, will it appoint some other person to do this work?
– I am not aware of having received such an offer, though I, in common with other Ministers, have received many offers to assist the Government, in an honorary capacity and otherwise. It is possible that the gentleman indicatedby the honorable member, although I am not able to identify him by the description given, has made such an offer. I shall make inquiries. As soon as the scheme began to operate in Rhodesia, a liaison officer, who is an Australian, was appointed in South Africa to keep me posted regarding the conditions and general well-being of Australians serving in that country.
– Recently the Minister for Air, in answer to a question by me, admitted that some hundreds of skilled mechanics at Richmond aerodrome were without suitable employment, and were engaged on purely menial labour. The honorable gentlemanthen said that he was considering the temporary transfer of these men to the munitions industry. In view of the shortage of skilled labour in that industry, has anything been done in this regard?
– My previous answer to the honorable member was, that I was pursuing a policy the effect of which would be temporarily to divert to munitions activities certain skilled personnel enlisted in and trained for the Air Force but not immediately required by that force. This policy is being given effect at present; some hundreds of aircraftmen have been released temporarily from the Air Force for employment in munitions works, and have been so engaged.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether the Government intends to issue a balance-sheet in connexion with No. 2 wheat pool? If so, when will the document be made public?
– A full statement of the transactions up to the present time has already been issued, but finality has not yet been reached regarding the operations of the pool. When the details have been completed, the honorable member’s question will receive consideration.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Government makes a profit from the goods sold by the
Commonwealth Railways Provisions and Stores Branch to employees of the Commonwealth Railways Department? If bo, what profits were made annually during the last five years?
– I shall place the questions before the Minister for the Interior, and convey his reply to the honorable member.
Exchange of Representatives
– Has finality been reached in the communications between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand regarding an exchange of Ministers or High Commissioners ?
– No finality has yet been reached in the matter.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the profit of 8 per cent. to be permitted to the coal-owners is to be calculated on their original capital or on their watered stock ?
– An answer to the honorable member’s question was handed in to-day.
Statement to Constitutional Club
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the published remarks of the Australian Minister to China, Sir Frederic Eggleston, at the Constitutional Club in Melbourne, to the effect that he “ preferred the bombs of Chungking to the stink bombs of Australian politics. Some Australian interests were seeking to make the democracy helpless for the sake of personal considerations”? Does the right honorable gentleman approve of diplomatic representatives of this country making such statements ? Will he call for a statement from Sir Frederic Eggleston, setting out the interests to which he referred, and the source of his knowledge of political stink bombs?
– The honorable gentleman would hardly expect me to disavow the sentiment which was expressed by Sir Frederic Eggleston; it is one that finds a ready echo in my mind.
As to whether Sir Frederic should have made such remarks, the subject has already been discussed by the Advisory War Council.
Transfer of Officers from Canberra.
– In the absence of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that a section of the Department of Trade and Customs is being formed under the name of the Imports Procurement Committee for the purpose of implementing the lease-lend legislation as affects Australia? Is it proposed to transfer 80 public servants from Canberra to Sydney and Melbourne for this purpose?
– To-day, I handed in from the Department of Trade and Customs an answer covering the honorable member’s question.
– Will the Minister for Commerce explain to the House the method of payment that he proposes to adopt for wheat delivered under the stabilization scheme? Will the wheat be paid for in full when delivered to the agents, or will a system of progress payments operate, as is done at present in connexion with the delivery of, and payments for, wheat under the No. 1 and No. 2 pools?
– Matters concerning the method of payment, and the dates on which payment will be made for wheat under the stabilization scheme, are being considered by the Australian Wheat Board.
– Has the Treasurer’s attention been directed to criticisms of the cost-plus system by the president of the New South Wales Taxpayers Association, first, that the Government cannot get efficiency through such a system; secondly, that the system does not remove the necessity for reducing costs; thirdly, that it provides a direct incentive to increase prices; and fourthly, that it is open to abuse on a vast scale, the detection of which is practically impossible? If so, what action does the honorable gentleman propose to take in the matter?
– I have not seen the comment. nEW GUINEA.
Search for Flow Oil.
– As the recent investi gations undertaken by the Minister for External Territories into the reported discovery of flow oil in New Guinea have not enabled him to decide definitely that oil does exist in payable quantities in a portion of the uncontrolled area, though a certain company claims to possess this evidence, will he reconsider the company’s offer to finance an expedition, under government supervision, in order to determine whether or not oil is to be found there ?
– I have already intimated to the chairman of directors of the company that if he is able to submit evidence that a reasonable prospect exists of finding oil there, the matter will be considered. To date, no such evidence has been submitted to me.
– Is the proposal of the sugar cane-growers in the Northern Rivers district to restrict their crop by 20 per cent., actuated by a direction from the Government?
– Is it the policy of the Army to grant pre-embarkation leave to all branches of the forces? If so, what has happened during recent weeks to warrant the recall of men before the completion of their leave?
– The honorable member has correctly indicated the general policy, and I am unaware of any occurrence in recent weeks which has caused a change to be made. If the honorable member will submit particulars to me, I shall see to what extent any grievance on this score can be remedied.
Liberalization of Family Unit - Blind Pensioners - Increase of Rate
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister for Social Services is sheltering behind Cabinet concerning the non-implementation of a decision of the House in favour of liberalizing the family unit for applicants for pensions? When does the Government propose to implement the direction, which the House gave to it, to increase the family unit to 50s.? Does the Government intend to ignore the decision of the House ?
– The matter is at present being considered by the Economic Committee of Cabinet. Beyond that I know nothing of it, because I do not sit on that committee; but I am sure that the honorable member is wrong in thinking that the Minister for Social Services is sheltering behind Cabinet. That is something which I frequently wish that I Gould do, but I am certain that my colleague has not done it.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that blind wives of blind pensioners have had their pensions reduced as the result of the increase of the basic wage brought about by the increased cost of living in Queensland? If so, will the Minister have this hardship removed.?
– The only information I have on that matter is contained in a letter which I received only a few hours ago from the honorable member and which is receiving attention.
– In view of the fact that any increase of the rate of invalid and old-age pensions would result in a greater consumption of foodstuffs, many varieties of which are in abundance and are unsaleable and are either stored or allowed to go to waste, can the Treasurer explain how the Government justifies its statement that lack of finance is the obstacle to increasing the rate of the pensions ?
– The rate was fixed by Parliament.
– A few days ago the Prime Minister said that at the end of next year Australia would have 150,000 munitions workers and 600,000 men in the fighting services. How can the Prime Minister reconcile that proportion with the statement of British Cabinet Ministers that eight or ten munitions and other war workers are required to maintain one service man in the field ? Has the Government any plan to rectify the disproportion in Australia?
– The honorable member’s assumption as to what British Cabinet Ministers say is unfounded, because if those proportions existed in Great Britain, the results on the fighting services would be extraordinary. It is true that in the air service, the number of ground personnel to men in the air is high. All that I can say is that the figures I gave for Australia are accurate.
– Is it true, as has been stated in the press, that the Minister for Labour and National Service is about to establish a housing trust to deal with the housing of munitions workers? If so, is the trust to be on a Commonwealth or State basis?
– The Government has decided that in view of the spread of munitions activities and the necessity to provide homes for the workers some central housing organization is necessary. It is proposed to establish a trust which will work in close co-operation with the existing State housing authorities.
– In view of the state ment of Dr. F. W. Clements, Director of the Australian Institute of Anatomy, that the results of a survey carried out in the western part of New South Wales and in other parts of the Commonwealth show that between 15 and 20 per cent. of the children in those parts are below standard weight, what action does the Minister for Social Services propose to take in order to overcome that condition, which is attributable to malnutrition?
– Dr. Clements took pains to indicate that the condition to which he referred was not entirely owing to economic causes. His analysis covered, not the whole of the. Commonwealth, but certain selected areas including areas served by the Lady Gowrie Kindergarten Centres, which were established by the Commonwealth Government. Those centres are providing an excellent opportunity for research into nutrition matters, and I hope that the Minister for Health will soon be in a position to do something about this matter.
– Has the Minister for the Army any information about the progress made in regard to camouflage generally and at Port Kembla particularly?
– The subject of camouflage is too wide for explanation in answer to a question, but I shall be glad to give the honorable member information about the matter, which I am sure he will appreciate.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply inform the House whether T. J. Richards, of South Australia, tendered for 20,400 flame floats, aircraft navigation (Schedule No. 36,490), at £3 12s. each, and later received the contract on a cost-plus basis, whilst the firm of F. G. Kerr and Company Limited, of Camperdown, Sydney, tendered to supply at a cost of £211s. 6d. each net?
– I shall ascertain the facts and convey a reply to the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the following statement which appeared in the last issue of the Sydney Sunday Sun -
Profit-taking accentuated the setback in leading industrial shares which followed the realization that recent peace hopes were premature.
What does the Treasurer know about the manipulation of stocks and shares and government securities on the London Stock Exchange?
– I have not seen that article, but I shall read it and reply to the honorable gentleman later.
Photographs in Chamber.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that moving pictures of the House in session are now being taken?
– If moving pictures are being taken, I hope that I am not in them. The question is one for the Speaker.
– Permission was granted to certain photographers to take pictures in this House on the condition that it was done noiselessly and that the number of “ shots “ was limited to three. The officials have been instructed to seize the camera if any photographer exceeds the scope of the permission granted.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether members of this Parliament will be permitted to peruse the available evidence in respect of the wasteful use of Government motor cars by certain Ministers? If this evidence is not to be made available, will a detailed statement be prepared, setting out the uses to which Government cars have been put by Ministers during the last twelve months? Further, will an indication be given as to whether the different departments, or Ministers personally, are charged for their use?
– I shall have the question brought to the notice of the Minister for the Interior, and shall see that a reply is conveyed to the honorable member.
Strength of Air Force
– Will the Minister for Air state whether it is a fact, as Air-Commodore R. V. Goddard is reported in the press to have broadcast, that the British forces at the time of their withdrawal from Crete had the support of only seven Hurricane aeroplanes, whereas opposed to them were 1,000 German planes?
– I am not able to either confirm or deny the accuracy of this report. Air-Commodore Goddard is not an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force, and I have no knowledge of the statement he is reported to have made.
– Because of statements made by Sir Iven Mackay, upon his return to Australia, in regard to lack of collaboration between the army and the air force in the campaign in Libya, and other criticism, I ask the Minister for the Army whether he has any information to give to the House?
– I can be guided in this matter only by press reports. These indicate that Sir Iven Mackay made a statement with which, I suppose, every one agrees, namely, that, in connexion with the operations of the Australian Imperial Force overseas, there is urgent need for more men and the fullest complement of modern equipment. Sir Iven Mackay also expressed a view with respect to the need for co-ordination of a certain portion of the air arm with the army, under the control of the army commander. I am in agreement with this. I have indicated that the Government already has taken steps to implement the suggestion in connexion with our troops in the Middle East, and is considering similar action in Australia. Obviously, having regard to the Empire air scheme, and our other commitments in relation to air operations, the extent of its implementation in Australia must be conditioned, but, of course, not excluded, by the availability of aircraft.
– In view of the serious position in which many persons in this country find themselves as the result of the war and Government maladministration
– Order ! Comment in a question is out of order.
– Will the Prime Minister take steps, by means of legislative enactment, to have interest rates considerably reduced, particularly in respect of mortgages, which hear very heavily on primary producers and small manufacturers ?
– The honorable member will be happy to learn that, as the result of the operation of the policy of this Government ever since it came into office, interest rates in this country have fallen very materially - an unusual thing in time of war, but, I suggest, highly satisfactory. The Government is willing to examine any suggestion which the honorable member may be able to make.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether any Canadian troops have been in action in the Middle East? If not, have they been in action anywhere up to the present time?
– My answer to the first part of the question is, not that I am aware of; and to the second part, that I believe Canadian troops were in service during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that Captain Rigney, who was implicated in the Abbco bread scandal, was dismissed from his position in the Defence Forces? Did His Honour, Mr. Justice Maxwell, severely criticize certain officers of the Department of Supply for not having made proper investigations of the credentials of the Abbco Bread Company Limited before it was given a contract? Is Captain Rigney to be the only sufferer as the result of administrative blunders in this matter?
– The notice-paper contains a. motion in my name for the printing of the report made by the Royal Commissioner in the Abbco bread case. It is impossible to answer all the questions put by the honorable member. The strictures and comments of the Royal Commissioner have been dealt with by the Department of Supply and the Department of the Army. The comments upon Captain Rigney were such as to make it quite clear that he was an efficient officer, and that his actions at all times were governed by his desire to serve the army. Certain comments were made against other officers of the army, and in respect of those I have directed that action be taken. I am quite prepared to explain fully at some appropriate time what has been done by the Department of the Army and the Department of Supply.
– According to pres.-: reports, the Minister for the Army favours raising the rates of pay of soldiers, as was advocated by the Labour party twelve months ago. Can the honorable gentleman indicate when the increased rates are likely to be received ?
– The Government has always had under consideration the matter of soldiers’ pay. I have nothing to add to the recent pronouncement of the Prime Minister in respect of it.
– When does th<Minister for the Army intend to proceed with his proposal for the appointment of a Deputy Leader of the United Australia party? What are the honorable gentleman’s reasons for desiring to establish such a position, and who are the prospective candidates?
Question not answered.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that the plans and specifications for the Yaralla Military Hospital were prepared in the works branch of the Department of the Interior, but that the work of supervising the construction was given to a firm of private architects on a percentage basis? Will the Minister make a full statement of the facts concerning thi; work and similar undertakings?
– I shall obtain th* necessary information and make it available to the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the fact that in the course of a broadcast made last Sunday night over the national network bv the Minister for Information (Senator Foll) on his trip to the East, the Minister devoted a considerable portion of his time to party politics? I ask that steps be taken through the Department of Information to prevent a recurrence of such a happening.
– I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s question.
Debate resumed from the 22nd August (vide page 160), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Government to certain matters associated with the sale of the Australian wool clip to Great Britain, because I consider that the time has arrived for a complete review of the’ agreement on the subject. A good deal of mystery shrouds the circumstances under which the agreement was made shortly after the outbreak of the war. We have not yet been able to discover which Australian interests were consulted in regard to the price that was fixed for the wool. The Woolgrowers’ Council has intimated that it was not consulted, although prior to the making of the agreement it had submitted to the Government a price which it considered would be fair to all parties. The Government made a bare announcement that the price had been fixed at 13½d. per lb. Australian, which is equivalent to10d. per lb. sterling. The price paid for the Australian wool sold to the British Government during the last war was 15d. per lb. Australian currency at that time was at par with sterling. It has been stated that the Australian woolgrowers were fortunate to get10d. per lb. sterling for their wool when the agreement was made, and that, in any case, the agreement provided for a review of the price after the expiry of twelve months. The agreement has been in force for more than twelve months, during which time the production costs of the Australian wool-growing industry have increased greatly; but the price of our wool has not been varied. Under existing conditions small wool- growers of Australia, and probably also wool-growers who operate on a large scale, are actually producing their wool at a loss. The position of the wool industry is in fact most serious. At the time the agreement was made we were told that Australia would receive half of any profits that the British Government might make on Australian wool resold to foreign countries. The British Government obtained control of the Australian and New Zealand wool clips, but not that of South Africa. The insincerity of certain interests which said that the Australian wool-growers would obtain half of the profits of any resales made to foreign countries was shown by their handing of our greasy wool over to the spinners to convert into tops - work which could quite easily have been done in this country. By this means the Australian wool-growers have been robbed of profits that they might otherwise have received. It is generally believed by our people that the British Government bought our wool clip. Nominally that was so, but actually the Bradford interests were behind the move, and they showed themselves to be not only jubilant but also incredulous at having obtained control at such a low price, for they expected to have to pay at least as much as was paid during the last war. Statements to this effect have been published in the press and have also been made in the House of Lords. The Australian wool-growers had no option but to sell their wool as they did, and it seems to me that the whole transaction savours of a scandal. We were, in fact, “ sold out “ to the Bradford interests which are interlocked with the big banking and grazing interests of Australia. Yet, whenever we dare to suggest anything of this kind we are accused of a lack of patriotism and of a desire to profiteer at the expense of Great Britain. We thought when our wool was sold to Great Britain that the British Government, and therefore the British taxpayers, would reap some advantage, but that has not been the result. The Australian wool-growers are losing millions of pounds a year and the Bradford interests are reaping a corresponding benefit. Our wool is being sent to America and to other countries where there is a demand for it,but under conditions which preclude the Australian wool-grower from receiving any benefit This is happening at a time when the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) is, no doubt, suffering from many headaches in his efforts to frame an acceptable budget for submission to the Parliament. I point out to him that if he could secure a revision of the terms of the wool agreement he would do a valuable service to the nation and, also, incidentally, help himself. It is unfair that our wool should be sold at a figure below the cost of production, seeing that certain interests are making such handsome profits out of it Wool is a most important commodity in these days, and it sells itself. It is as good as gold for exchange purposes, and we should be able to exchange it for aeroplanes and other equipment being obtained from the United States of America for the Australian fighting services.
– The wool has been pulled over our eyes.
– It has not been pulled over mine, for I have been directing attention to the position for a considerable period. Those who take steps to reveal the facts of the case are accused of wishing to profiteer at the expense of the Mother Country. That is not the case. As a small wool-grower, I would offer no objection to the British people reaping some advantage from the handling of Australian wool by the British Government. I would not object if the wool were being made available to the British people at cost; but I strongly object to the Bradford manufacturers, under the cloak of patriotism, reaping the benefit of the profits on resales. The wool agreement should be revised immediately. It is contended by some people connected with the wool industry that wool is sold to-day at a fair price ; but those people are connected with the big banking and pastoral companies, and make more from purchasing the wool than from growing it. What they lose on the swings they make up on the roundabouts, because the companies in which they are interested control the textile industries in India and other cheap labour countries. My own returns for wool show that I shall not receive costs of production this year. The prices of all the primary producers’ requirements are increasing almost every day. To-day the prices of primary products are fixed. Primary producers are not in the fortunate position of contractors in secondary industries, who work on the cost-plus system and get cost price plus a margin of profit. The Government should take immediate steps to increase the price of wool by at least 2d. per lb. An increase of1d. per lb. over the whole of the Australian wool clip would place an additional £4,000,000 in the pockets of the growers. Prior to the Avar, when wool-buyers came here and bid in the open market, people thought that they were competing against each other for the purchase of the Australian wool clip; but in reality they were merely offering a price already arrived at by the wool ring. It is said by those who oppose any increase of the price of wool, that it has already been advanced 3d. per lb. over pre-war prices. That is true; but what these people do not say is that, in the year before the war, the Australian wool clip was sold at10d. per lb. Australian, or 2d. per lb. below the cost of production. Costs have risen considerably since then. The increased price of superphosphate and the cost of combating the blow-fly pest have involved wool-growers in heavy losses. In addition, they have to cope with the shortage of man-power in pastoral areas. I know from my own returns that, because of the high prices of their requirements and the exorbitant rates of interest charged on advances made to them, most of the wool-growers can barely balance their budgets. I am only a small grower with about 1,500 sheep, and at present prices it is impossible for me to continue.
– The Bradford people are buying our wool and selling it to anybody who wants it at fancy prices.
– That is so.
– Should not the woolgrowers have a representative in London to watch their interests?
– Yes. Too much influence is exerted by the representatives of the textile industry. Even on the Wool Growers Council are to be found directors of banks and textile concerns. That is the trouble with most of the bodies controlling primary industries; and that is why I urge the Government to give this matter its very earnest consideration. At a time when it is examining every avenue in order to raise the necessary revenue to finance the war effort, it should do everything possible to keep primary producers on the land. The increase of the Australian wool clip has been largely brought about as the result of the opening up of new pastures and the improvement of existing pastures. Over the last fifteen years, especially in Victoria and Tasmania, new pasture country has been opened up which formerly was regarded as waste land, but to-day is carrying three sheep to the acre. When I first took over my block on my return from the last war, it was overrun with rabbits and would not carry one sheep to 4 acres. In developing my holding, I nearly starved, but I hung on and now, as the result of improvement effected by the sowing of subterranean clover, that country is suitable for raising fat lambs and its carrying capacity has been increased to three sheep to the acre. The success of the wool industry is absolutely vital to our Australian economy. On its success depends the future prosperity of Australia. In view of that, we should do everything possible to ensure that the wool-growers are able to make a decent living. The Australian Government should follow the lead given by the New Zealand Government and provide that the increase of the price of superphosphate, resulting from the war, should be borne by the nation and not by the primary producers. I am not at all sure that the increases of the price of superphosphate in Australia since the war are justified, particularly that proportion of it which is said to be due to increased freight charges. Unless freight charges be reduced to a fair proportion of the total cost, the Commonwealth may have to create a ministry of shipping and run its own ships as it did during the last war. The increase of 26s. a ton attributed to the high freight rates caused by the war is out of all proportion. It seems that the freight costs more than the phosphate rock itself. The Government should inquire into freight charges made by the shipping companies.
The Government does not seem to realize the very serious position that is developing in country areas to-day as the result of the drift of population from rural centres to the cities. The Government must realize how serious this problem will become if it be not tackled immediately. Many residents of country towns, able-bodied and willing to work but beyond military age, are drifting to the cities. Unless they are faced with starvation, I doubt whether they will ever be persuaded to return to the country. The Government should utilize small plants in country towns to a much greater degree in the production of war material. In that way it could stem the present drift of labour to the cities. So serious is the position becoming that many country garages are already seeking moratoriums. They are on the verge of bankruptcy, with no prospect of their plants being utilized. Most of these men possess sufficient skill to undertake much of the engineering work associated with the production of war material. The Government should organize these workshops in order to enable them to play their part in our war effort. I repeat that if this problem be not tackled immediately it will develop to serious proportions.
The belief that the Government is not concerned with any community situated more than 10 miles or so from the big cities is also supported by the treatment meted out to the country press in the placing of Government advertisements, particularly air force, army and naval recruitment advertising. The only time the Government seems to use the country press is when it can obtain free publicity in those papers. The country journals are bearing their fair share of taxation and are entitled to just treatment, particularly at a time when country districts generally, for reasons I have mentioned, are suffering economically. Many country papers are faced with bankruptcy. I appeal to the Government to give to those papers a fair share of its advertising appropriation, all of which now goes to the great metropolitan dailies.
– An arrangement along those lines was agreed to recently.
– I am glad to hear that. I hope that in future the country papers as a whole will be given a fair share of Government advertising.
All of the points which I have mentioned are most important and should receive urgent consideration. If the Government considers that it cannot deal adequately with any of them, it should be honest and accept the challenge issued by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) yesterday, that Labour be given an opportunity to govern. A Labour Government would not be shackled by vested interests which obviously dominate the present Government.
.- I wish to emphasize the necessity for taking immediate steps to implement the recommendations of Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank, the two overseas oil experts who recently reported on the development of the Lakes Entrance oil-field. Some weeks have elapsed since those gentlemen reported to the Government on that matter, but, apparently, delay is being caused by certain negotiations which are now taking place between the Commonwealth Government, the Victorian Government and the company which holds the leases on which most of the bores have been put down. In time of war, when we badly need lubricating oil which can be provided from the Lakes Entrance field, such a delay is serious. Last December when I dealt with this subject briefly in this chamber, I made two suggestions to the Government. The first was that oil-fields in other countries somewhat similar in character to the Lakes Entrance oil-field, with low permeability and somewhat low pressure, were now being successfully developed by a method which had been perfected since 1938. That method is, instead of putting down ordinary vertical bores, to sink shafts as is done in ordinary mining operations, and when the oil stratum is reached, to widen out the shaft into a chamber from which horizontal drilling is undertaken. The great advantage of horizontal drilling in a field like Lakes Entrance is that the bores, for the whole of their length, go through oil-saturated material, whereas a vertical bore, irrespective of its depth, may go through only, say. 30 feet of the oil stratum.
The second suggestion I made about eight months ago was that the time had come when the Government should bring to this country, preferably from the United States of America, an expert in low-pressure oil-fields, who was completely au fait with the new method of shaft sinking and horizontal drilling. Some seven or eight weeks ago the Government brought to this country Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank, two oil experts of high repute, the former being an oil engineer from the United States of America, and the latter an oil engineer from Canada. Those gentlemen visited Lakes Entrance and reported that that field could be developed commercially by shaft sinking and horizontal drilling. They made their recommendation some weeks ago. I understand that the Commonwealth Government, the Victorian Government and the company concerned are on the eve of arriving at a working agreement. However, I now urge upon the Government the need to act more expeditiously in this matter. The period of experimentation on the Lakes Entrance field has already been too long. I can see no reason why the Government cannot immediately implement the recommendation made by Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank. As the shaft to be sunk will have to go down about 1,200 feet, that work, which will obviously take some months, should be started without delay. I am optimistic enough to believe that as soon as the horizontal drilling is commenced, the Government will find that it will be amply repaid for any assistance or encouragement which it may give to the company concerned. We are told that the oil at Lakes Entrance is not of a light nature containing petrol, but that it contains a very large proportion of lubricating oil which is worth at least three times as much per gallon as petrol. There is also a substantial quantity of bitumen of a quality that is very much sought after by the Country Roads Board of Victoria. I take this opportunity to urge upon the Government the necessity for the recommendation of the experts to be carried out with the least possible delay.
– I shall not oppose this bill because I think itis the duty of every honorable member to do all in his power to assist the Government in the prosecution of the war effort. That has been my attitude all along.
I regret that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) sought the other night to belittle our ally Russia. A great deal of what the honorable member said was wrong. L do not agree that Russia will collapse soon, nor do I. think that should Russia be successful in this conflict we shall have to fight the Russians at a later stage. 1 had the privilege of making a trip through Russia six years ago, and I can assure the honorable member for Barker that nothing is farther from the minds of Russian, people than the acquisition of more territory. In the course of my tour I was informed that although Russia at that time had a population of 170,000,000, the country would not be considered safe until the population had reached 200,000,000. Everything possible is done to facilitate an increase of the population. The. great fight now being put up by the Russian people is aimed solely at keeping their country. Russia would have been quite prepared to assist Great Britain all along had the Soviet Government been given the right encouragement. It is the duty of every Australian, and of every person in the British Empire, to look upon any nation supporting our cause as an ally. With regard to possible developments after the war, I submit that there will be a day of reckoning when such matters may be discussed. It is to be hoped that Russia will continue to hold the Germans, so that the muchneeded respite which has been given to England during the past few weeks may continue.
There is a matter which I should like to bring under the notice df the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen). I have received a letter from one of my constituents - the father of four lads whom I have known since childhood. Two of them enlisted and sailed from Australia in one of the first contingents. They have now been in the Middle East for ten months, and have participated in fighting around
Tobruk and other places. The third son embarked for overseas recently, and the fourth joined the Royal Australian Air Force. The four lads are of a strong athletic type and are well spoken of by their team mates in various branches of sport. The boy who joined the Royal Australian Air Force was posted to a flying school at Western Junction, and. I have received the following letter from his father : -
In reference to the case of my son, who waa taken from the Western Junction Air Force Flying School, while he with three other lads waa waiting trial toy court martial. The charges against’ them were that they had been absent without leave for a period of twelve (12) days and with swearing at thu Sergeant of the Guard and for breaking a piece of the door of the clink or cell after they had been placed in the clink at Western Junction.
They were placed under open arrest in Launceston on Monday, 7th July, and went out to the camp that night. After they got out there some trouble arose over the action of a sergeant who was responsible for all the trouble. However, after they had been a night in the clink, they were taken into Launceston and placed in the Launceston Gaol, where they remained until Sunday, 13th July.
The part that I am concerned about, as you will see in my letter to the Minister, was the putting of the boys into a civil gaol. “Yon will notice on the file that I have received a letter and I consider that it was a most unsatisfactory one as he did not give me any reason why he ‘had ‘been put in gaol. These boys are not criminals but are honest sons of honest people. The only crime they had committed was to break a regulation. Now I might state the reasons for the action taken by the four lads were to break down a rotten system they bad of rostering guards at every other flying school - they are two hours on duty and four hours off with a clean break of 24 hours off each week, but at Western Junction they were working two hour.?, on and four hours off, but continuously without a break. The lads had on several occasions endeavoured to be paraded before the Officer in Command to put their case against this system, but were always wiped out, so they then decided to break camp and force an inquiry, and in this they were successful, and as a result of the court martial the position at Western Junction waa very much improved and they now work the same system of guard duty that they do in other camps.
But these boys had to pay the penalty, and the objection taken by their parents is that they were put into a civil prison while awaiting court martial. The following letter was sent by the father of the boy to the Minister for Air: -
I desire to bring under your notice an injustice which I consider was done by officers of the Royal Australian Air Force to my son and three of his associates who are stationed at Western Junction.
Recently they have been charged at a court martial with a breach of the regulations, and during the time they were awaiting trial they were, from Tuesday, 8th July, to Sunday, 13th July, held in a cell atLaunceston Police Station. None of these boys have ever been in any trouble before with the police, and I consider that to put them in a police cell while awaiting trial was a grave injustice.
I would like to make it clear that I am not attempting to make any excuses for the misconduct with which they have been charged, nor do I ask for any concessions regarding any proper punishmentwhich may be ordered us a result of the court martial; butI consider that, as Minister controlling this department, you should be acquainted of the facts regarding their incarceration in a civil gaol.
I may say that I have only four sons, and three of them are with the Australian Imperial Force (two having been overseas for the past ten months) and the third is awaiting embarkation. The fourth, of course, is one of the lads in question. My wife and I naturally feel that a stigma has been placed on the whole family as a result of the actions of the responsible officers at Western Junction. My four boys have always borne excellent characters, as all who know them would willingly testify.
I can verify that last statement, because I have known the family for many years. This is the reply from the Minister for Air, to which my correspondent takes exception -
I have only just seen your letter of 24th July, which arrived during my absence from Melbourne for over a week, and I note your remarks regarding your son and three of his fellow airmen who are stationed at Western Junction.
A report has been submitted to me by a senior staff officer of the Royal Australian Air Force of all the circumstances surrounding the case of your son and his comrades.
As a result, I am satisfied that the action taken by the commanding officer of the Royal Australian Air Force Training School at Western Junction was entirely justified. I regret that I am not able to take a different view of the case and can fully understand your feeling, as all your sons have taken their places in the Empire fighting forces. May I offer congratulations to you on this splendid example of patriotism.
I appreciate your remark that you did not attempt to make any excuses for any misconduct with which the men concerned in the escapadeunder discussion have been charged, and I hope your mind may now be somewhat relieved in view of the fact that a careful review has been made of the whole proceedings.
None of us would like our sons to be treated as these boys were. There should have been proper means of punishment within the camp. At all military and air force stations soldiers and airmen are incarcerated from time to time, for various reasons, without any slur being cast upon their characters. Many of our best fighting men spend some of their time in “ clink “. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who is a highly placed officer in our military forces, smiles; apparently he agrees with me. Probably, in his youth, he also spent some time under detention in a military camp.
I am not satisfied with the manner in which the Government proposes to expend the money which we are asked to vote for the service of His Majesty for the next two months. More expenditure should be allotted for munitions and defence work generally in States other than New South Wales and Victoria. When war broke out we knew that there would be a scarcity of shipping space. Some of my constituents wrote to me then that they were able and willing to build wooden ships. I urged the Government to support the industry, but it has failed to do so. Ships have been built in my electorate for the last 80 years at least; I believe that the first vessel was built in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel over 100 years ago. Mr. Townsend, of the Trade and Customs Department, conducted an inquiry into the subject and I have repeatedly asked that a copy of his report be made available to me.
– The honorable member would find it very unsatisfying, if he did see it.
– Perhaps, but I should like to see it before expressing an opinion. Probably it would be of some value. I urged the Government to encourage the building of wooden ships because I knew that they could be used to transport primary produce from Tasmania to the mainland. At the present time, very little shipping space is available for that trade. A ship arrived in Sydney from Tasmania last Monday with only 94 cases of apples. The Sydney market could dispose of 20,000 or 30,000 cases a week. Apples are deteriorating in Tasmanian cool stores while the mainland cannot get them, because there are not sufficient ships available. The construction of wooden ships does not require the use of complicated machinery. Therefore, the argument that the industry cannot be developed owing to the lack of machinery is not valid. Wooden ships could carry on the Tasmanian trade with the mainland satisfactorily, although, of course, they would not be able to maintain such punctual schedules as steamships. They would not be a liability after the war, because they could be sold to firms engaged in trade with the South Sea Islands. Probably the Minister in charge of External Affairs (Mr. McDonald), on his recent trip to New Guinea, heard many inquiries about wooden ships. When I visited the islands some time ago, I heard many such inquiries. Vessels of about 150 tons displacement would be valuable in the fishing industry, which the Government is seeking to develop. Wooden vessels could also be powered with engines and used as minesweepers, thus releasing for other duties the vessels now engaged in that work. The people who are willing to undertake the building of wooden ships do not ask for very much financial assistance. They only want to know whether a market exists for such craft. Had the Government acted promptly, many new ships could have been in operation by now, and thousands of cases of apples, which are rotting in Tasmania, could have been supplied to the mainland market, which is badly in need of fruit.
I hope that the Government will give favorable consideration to the establishment of more munitions factories in Tasmania. They could be operated more economically there than on the mainland, because Tasmania has cheap hydroelectric power supplies. In the mainland States the generation of electric power requires the use of a great deal of machinery, the employment of many men, and the consumption of large quantities of coal. In Tasmania, however, water generates the power so that expenditure on all of these items is greatly reduced. The Tasmanian Government is prepared to assist the Commonwealth in every way to embark on a big programme of munitions production in that State. All that has been promised to Tasmania up to the present time is the establishment of a cartridge-case factory, and I understand that this will not be put into operation immediately because certain difficulties have arisen. Plenty of labour is available in Tasmania, and unless ‘the Government accedes to my request, widespread unemployment will occur. The newsprint industry was recently established in Tasmania, but this would not have been done but for the fact that the island possesses cheap electric power, an abundance of water and timber suitable for the manufacture of paper. I understand that the company which is now producing newsprint at Boyer has asked the Commonwealth Government for permission to enlarge its plant. Its factory is now capable of producing 27,000 tons of newsprint annually, and it wishes to increase the rate of production to 107,000 tons annually. That quantity should be sufficient to supply almost the whole of Australia’s requirements under rationing, and it is probable that, owing to the shortage of shipping space, we shall be unable to obtain large consignments from overseas in the future. I hope that the Government will not raise any objection to the extension of the company’s operations. The industry is very important to Australia.
Petrol rationing has been imposed in a very unfair fashion. Only a few months ago, I stated in this House that members of this Parliament residing in Sydney were receiving 44 gallons of petrol a month, whilst the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Pollard), and representatives of other rural districts, were receiving only 14 gallons a month. Residents of capital cities, who are able to use trams, trains and omnibuses, should not receive so much petrol as others.
– They do not.
– .Since when has that been so?
– For months I, and other honorable members from metropolitan areas, have been receiving only 5 gallons a month.
– Honorable members have told me that they are getting more than that.
– Then they are using some special reason in order to get it.
– Yes, the fact that they are members of Parliament. It is not fair that they should receive more than, country residents, who have not sufficient petrol to transport their produce to market. The small fruits grown in my electorate will be picked before Christmas, and must be placed in the market within 24 hours after being picked, but the growers have had their petrol ration reduced so much that they will be unable to deliver the fruit. It may be said that they should go back to horse-drawn vehicles, but that is impossible; they cannot get either the horses or the vehicles.
– The price of horses is very low at present.
– We cannot get them in Tasmania, and the price there is not low. I say that the primary producers have not had a fair deal in regard to petrol rationing, and I hope that the Government will treat them better in future.
– Would it ease the position if the growers were given enough petrol to take their fruit to the waterside, whence it could be shipped to markets ?
– Yes, if the shipping shortage could be overcome. I urge the Government to make more petrol available to primary producers. I would cut out petrol supplies to private car owners in the cities. What need have they for petrol when tramcars pass their doors? Already complaints are being received regarding milk deliveries to the city because insufficient petrol is available to keep the lorries running.
– Hobart is threatened with a milk famine now for that very reason.
– -That is so, yet some private motorists are allowed all the petrol they can use. There are many other subjects upon which one could touch during a debate on the Supply Bill, but the most important matter for Parliament to consider at this time is the winning of the war, and I hope that it will be won before another Supply Bill is brought down.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) regarding the wool position, though perhaps not on quite the same grounds. The Government should reconsider the price paid to growers under the agreement with the British Government. The big wool manufacturers of Bradford have been the enemies of the Australian wool producers for years past. They did their utmost to prevent the holding of wool sales in Australia. Now they are evading the terms of the wool purchase agreement by giving to wool the absolute minimum of treatment necessary to qualify it as a manufactured article, and then reselling it at fancy prices to other nations, some of them favorably disposed towards us, and others not so favorably disposed. In this way, the manufacturers are keeping the whole of the profits of the resale to themselves, and robbing the producers who, had the wool been sold without treatment, would have been entitled’ to half of the profit. It is not fair that those firms should be allowed to make undue profits at the expense of the producers.
The wheat-growers in the north and north-west of Victoria, and the Western Riverina, have had three droughts in four years, and are passing through a very dry season at the present time. They are in a bad way, and the Government must come to their assistance. The best way in which to do this would be to establish a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Failing that, some form of moratorium will have to be introduced, or a large proportion of out primary producers will be forced off the land.
I recognize that it is necessary to conserve wool supplies for the making of uniforms, blankets, &c, for our armed forces, but I appeal to the Minister for Supply to make wool available to women working for the Red Cross and other organizations engaged in the making of comforts for our fighting men overseas. During recent months, it has been very difficult for them, to get wool for this purpose. These women, whose sons and husbands are with the forces, feel that they are doing something to help their menfolk when they are able to knit comforts for them, and the Government should make a special effort to enable them to obtain the necessary wool.
I realize that we have much for which to thank the British Government in connexion with the wool-purchase scheme. Without this assistance, it would be almost impossible for us to obtain shipping under war conditions, but it is not the British Government or the British people who are reaping the profit from the resale of wool to other countries. The profit is going to the big manufacturing firms of Bradford, and it is that to which I object.
– When the budget is brought down, we shall have an opportunity to spread ourselves in the discussion of financial topics generally. However,there isreference in this bill to the Department of the Army, and it is appropriate that I should now say something about Australia itself in the general scheme of the defence of our own country. We must visualize the possibility of this war being fought eventually upon the beaches of our own country. When we consider the changing fortunes of the conflict, and the too many retreats, glorious though they were, in which our forces participated, we cannot ignore the possibility that the time may come when we shall have to fight in our own country. I have no desire to hold post-mortems on what has been done, or what we have failed to do, but I urge the Government to take immediate stock of our present position. When the world was filled with doubts and alarms in the period immedi ately before the outbreak of war,we decided to put Australia into a position of defence. We discovered that the Defence Act permitted us to take measures for the defence of the Australian mainland only. We had nopower to take defensive measures in regard to islands which might become dangerous stepping stones to our own country. The Defence Act was amended to make provision for the defence of those islands, and it was done with the unanimous consent of all parties in this Parliament. It was found, for instance, that we could not send soldiers to Norfolk Island to guard the cable station there. It was illegal to arm the natives to undertake this work - and with that I am in agreement. Natives may be called upon for police work only. It was also discovered that Port Moresby and other parts of New Guinea were clanger zones. There were oil chimps there which should be removed inland as they might attract the hostile attention of an enemy. Itwas agreed that this weakness should be remedied, and the necessary action has since been taken. We then began to plan for the scientific defence of Australia. A programme was drawn up for the extension of munitions works, so that we might be able to equip an army for the defence of Australia, or for. service overseas, if necessary. Then, before the plans were matured, war broke out. Britain was at war with Germany, and we were automatically involved. An appeal was made by Great Britain to Australia and the other dominions to come to its aid by supplying men, arms, munitions, and foodstuffs. We acceded to the request, and I make no suggestion that we should have done other than we did. I do not joinwith those who say that Australia has failed in its war effort. I know something of the organization of industry, and when we compare what has been achieved with what we previously thought to be possible, we realize that somewhat of a miracle has been wrought. Australia is now manufacturing arms and munitions, light and heavy equipment and scientific apparatus which is being used on every battlefront. I am not saying that we should not have done these things, but we should take immediate steps to ensure that a percentage of all such war material manufactured in Australia is set aside for the defence needs of Australia itself.
What is the value of training 250,000 men for the Home Guard if there is no prospect of providing them with the necessary arms and equipment? We should ask ourselves whether it would not be better to train a smaller number of men properly. After having taken into consideration the dislocation of industry that is caused by the present practice of calling up men in certain age groups, we should ask ourselves when it will be possible to equip them. Surely every able-bodied man in Australia has the right to have a rifle placed in his hands, lest thewar should reach our own shores. Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, should consider how best it canprovide for its own safety aswell as helping the Mother Country. The other dominions are doing that. No longer should Australia be the softest member of the British family.
– A great number of men would have been now ready for military service if universal training had been imposed many years ago.
– If we stop to argue as to what should have happened 20 or 30 years ago, we shall make no contribution to the task of resisting invaders. The time has arrived when we can speak more bluntly on defence matters than we could six months or a year ago. The British Isles, which were in great danger two years ago, or even six months ago, are now a veritable fortress. Canada has greatly strengthened its home defence, and, backed by its blood relative, the United States of America, it is in a much stronger position than that in which Australia finds itself. Canada is still saying, as it has always said, that its first duty is to see to the defence of Canada, whilst South Africa has always maintained that it can best assist the Empire by defending its own territory. Long ago, when the threat of war was in the air, Great Britain told Australia that it must see to its own safety. Lord Baldwin and the late Mr. Chamberlain both said to us, “You must stand on your own feet. You can hope for no help whatever from Great Britain. If you go down and we pull through, we may then be able to retrieve you “. After such a declaration had been made on several occasions, Australia took action to provide for its security, and what has been accomplished is something of which we all are proud, but I am afraid that we have been neglecting our own requirements. We manufactured rifles, munitions, armoured vehicles, and light artillery and sent them overseas in shiploads. We provided Great Britain with steel sheeting for air-raid shelters. Nobody suggests that what we have done should not have been done, but we should now take stock of our own position and see that Australia’s immediate defence requirements shall not be neglected. The fact that an order was issued commandeering all privately owned rifles that might be of use in the defence of Australia shows clearly that there ought to be an immediate survey of our defence needs.
An increasing percentage of the ammunition manufactured in Australia should be stored in magazines throughout the Commonwealth, so that it will be available in the event of an emergency. Similarly, a percentage of guns of every necessary kind should be retained in Australia so that our own men may be adequately armed. I have no illusions about the danger that confronts us. Australia is not outside the danger zone. We cannot afford any more glorious retreats without our troops overseas having to return to Australia in order to fight the last battle on these shores. The troops now sent into camps cannot be properly trained because they cannot be provided with adequate equipment. I raise this matter at this stage so that the Government may give it careful consideration. We have not one-half of the number of rifles in Australia that we ought to have for our own defence, and, therefore, a sufficient number should be set aside and placed in armouries where experts consider they would probably be required in the event of the final battle having to be fought in our own country. It may be necessary to arm every able-bodied man in Australia. Three new rifle factories are to be provided, and that at Lithgow is to be quadrupled. One factory has been turning out 1,000 rifles a week, and had a substantial percentage of those weapons been retained in the past we might have had sufficient to equip at least every man now undergoing training. To-day, however, we are producing arms and ammunition for forces’ other than our own, and are exporting them. We are weaving clothing for military uniforms and making boots for soldiers other than our own, but a proportion of that equipment should be kept in AustraliaNo nation has been able to invade Germany during this war, and the enemy is getting nearer to Australia. We have a powerful nation close to our northern shores, and we do not know what may happen in that theatre in the near future, even in a matter of days. When the last ditch is reached, the older men will at least require some equipment, and therefore I suggest that stocks of food, arms and ammunition should be set aside, and that we should retain sufficient equipment to arm at least the men already undergoing training.
Very few people in. Australia, and certainly nobody on the Opposition side of the House, is in favour of a standing army of the old-fashioned kind, but I believe that a voluntary standing army, enlisted for the duration of the war, and consisting of half the number of men we have set out to train under the present system, would be more effective as a defence force than twice the number of imperfectly trained men. If the pay were sufficient to provide a living wage, I believe that 100,000 Australians would volunteer for service for the duration of the war as members of a home defence army. The members of such an army could be of such a wide spread of ages that their enlistment would not dislocate industry to such a degree as does the general call-up of young men. I am beginning to think that the present policy is unsatisfactory. We ought to consider the effect of calling for volunteers for a permanent army to serve in Australia only. A properly equipped army of 100,000 men would be worth more than 200,000 halftrained and half-equipped men. Believing that, I urge the Government to give immediate consideration to Australia’s defence position.
– The Australian Imperial Force must have priority.
– Quite so. I do not suggest for a moment that the armed forces and the equipment that have already left Australia should not have bp-n sent. But all units of the British Empire with the exception of Australia have enormously strengthened their home defences since the outbreak of war.
– Up to what age does the honorable member consider that the volunteers should be kept on the active list?
– Whilst making it perfectly clear that we invite men to volunteer to join this organization, I suggest an age limit of 25 to 40 years. If my scheme were adopted men could volunteer for service without injuring industry to anything like the extent that occurs to-day. At present, important industries are handicapped as the result of the Government’s policy of calling up young men in certain age groups for compulsory training. “Men who would volunteer for the kind of service that I have outlined would not come from technical classes of employment, but would be engaged in industries not directly related to the wai effort. My scheme would provide Australia with a well-equipped, properlytrained army for home defence for the duration of the war, and in the event of emergency, its ranks could be expanded by another 100,000 physically fit men, even without periods of training.
Although the Child Endowment Act has been in operation for less than twelve months anomalies have arisen, and the Minister gave a half-promise to examine what he described as “inequalities8 which have been exposed during recent months. The honorable gentleman should correct them before the introduction of the budget. When the Child Endowment Bill was under consideration by Parliament, most honorable members understood that payment would be made in respect of all children under the age of sixteen years, with the exception of the first child of each family. Unfortunately, in practice, that expectation has not been realized. Many honorable members also advocated that the first child under sixteen years of age of a widowed mother should be entitled to endowment. As the act is now phrased, the department is unable to avoid anomalies. For example, of four children in a family under sixteen years of age, three are eligible to receive child endowment. As the result of an estrangement, the parents might separate, the wife looking after three of the children, of whom two will be eligible for endowment, whilst the husband takes care of the fourth. The department contends that the child living with the father is not eligible foi endowment, because it is the “ first “ child of that family. One of the three children cared for by the mother is a nonparticipant, and thus two children of the four become ineligible. The act, which is supposed to give endowment in respect of all children under the age of sixteen years with Mie exception of the first, in that way denies payment to children who, in normal circumstances, would receive it. A.s that position was never contemplated, the Minster should correct the anomaly before the next payment is made.
Repeatedly. I have contended that the adult invalid pensioner, who has been granted a pension because of physical disability, should be placed in the same category as an old-age pensioner. In other words, the invalid pensioner should not have to depend upon charity. Why should a crippled man or woman who can work no longer be forced to rely upon the charity of his parents? When I raised this matter previously, the Minister for Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) evidently misunderstood me, because he interjected that the act applied to the invalid pensioner in exactly the same way as to the old-age pensioner. Unfortunately, that is not so. The Minister should re-examine the position. If a man qualifies to receive the old-age pension, it is granted to him irrespective of his parents’ means. If they do not choose voluntarily to maintain him, he is entitled to receive the full pension. The act does not compel him to rely upon the charity of his parents. But the invalid pensioner is in a different category. Although nine times out of ten an invalid pensioner requires succour more desperately than an old-age pensioner, the Government contends that he should not receive it if the weekly income of his parents exceeds £4 or £5. Should their income not exceed that amount, the applicant may be granted a pro rata pension. That is a terrible blot on the Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act, because it destines an invalid, irrespective of age, to depend upon his parents until their death. The Minister should remedy that position without delay.
A Commonwealth Public Service regulation is proving to be most harmful. If a postman, postal linesman, draughtsman or other member of the Commonwealth Service makes a little slip, he is ineligible for future employment in the Service. For example, a man who is handling money might withhold 10s. for the purpose of backing a race-horse, and put it back in the till in the following week. Whilst I do not assert that the culprit should not be punished or disrated, I object to the rigidity of the regulation which provides that he must never again be engaged in the Service. Many of these cases have been brought to my notice. A man might have opened a letter, or stolen a postal note valued at 5s., but, regardless of his many years of exemplary service, he is debarred for all time from registering even for pick and shovel work in the Commonwealth Service. When I raised these matters previously, departmental officials asked me whether I considered that they should reinstate in his former position a man who had proved to be untrustworthy. That is not my idea; but I say that the Commonwealth has no right to starve the man because he made one little slip. He should be given a chance to rehabilitate himself in some other employment where he will not be subject to the same temptations as previously caused his lapse.
– Cases of that nature are being dealt with at present, and a tribunal has been established for the purpose of seeing that justice is done.
– I am glad to hear that. I urge the Postmaster-General to make the regulation more flexible so that a man who tampered with money under bis control will not be debarred from obtaining other employment in the Service.
Perhaps the days of the present Government are numbered ; but the time has arrived when this Administration, or its successor, should take stock of Australia in order to ensure that the country will be able adequately to defend itself against invasion.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) on the manner in which he analysed the position of the wool clip and exposed the inadequacy of the price which is being paid to the growers. He also emphasized the iron grip, exerted by vested interests on the industry. When the agreement for the disposal of the wool clip was reached between the Commonwealth and British Governments, interests representing smaller woolgrowers were not consulted. In keeping with its usual policy, the Government approached only the big vested interests, the great wool firms, which are international in character and which control a huge proportion of our clip. Those powerful interests also have a second barrel, because they handle a large proportion of the wool for export to Great Britain. They have a further rake-off. In respect of greasy wool, 50 per cent, of the profits on resales was to be divided between the British Government and the Austraiian grower, but as the honorable member for Wannon pointed out, that is only a small proportion of our wool clip, the major portion being used by manufacturing interests. Those big interests get a further rake-off in respect of the manufactured article made from wool grown by the small wool-growers of this country. Under such conditions it is not a matter for astonishment that the growers, particularly the small growers, have complained of the impossibility of making ends meet. The Government should honour its undertaking to revise the agreement, but because of its domination by vested interests no action in. that direction has been taken.
To-day, in answer to a question, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that since the commencement of the war interest rates had fallen. That is an instance of “wishful thinking” on the part of the right honorable gentleman, because the fact is that many primary producers, especially small growers of wheat, wool, and dairy produce, are in worse financial straits than ever before. Prominent members of various organizations, as well as individual producers, have told me frequently that the burden of interest makes it practically impossible for them to carry on. Since the war began there has been no lowering of interest in respect of 95 per cent, of the mortgages over the holdings of primary producers.
– The bond return is under 3 per cent.
– That applies only to Government bonds, not mortgages. The position is intolerable; the interest burden is more than our primary industries can carry. On many occasions we on this side have appealed to the Government for a moratorium to regulate interest. rates, but we have had no satisfactory response to our requests. The Government has not attempted to relieve the burden of interest on primary producers.
Some weeks ago I moved the adjournment of the House in connexion with the wheat stabilization plan and the registration of wheat farms. At that time, mem bers representing country constituencies were inundated with complaints from farmers because of wheat farm3 having been deregistered. I then pointed to the anomalies which existed in the regulations. Not until several weeks had passed were amended regulations promulgated : this is the first opportunity that members have had to criticize them. Although amended regulations provide for the registration of bona fide wheat farms - land which had been prepared for wheat and grew wheat last season - there are still many conditions the effect of which is to take from the owner the control of his holding. The domestic management of farms and grazing properties is now in the hands of persons other than the owners. The regulations should be waived, at least temporarily. The Government’s wheat stabilization plan is a policy of restriction of acreage, notwithstanding that world conditions have changed considerably since the war began. During recent months the great grain-fields of the Ukraine and other parts of Europe have been laid waste. At any time Australia may be called upon to meet the demand to supply wheat to starving Europe. Our geographical position is such that we should be ready to respond to that demand, but how shall we do so if the Government insists on putting into operation its plan for a restriction of the acreage under wheat? Recently the Department of Commerce issued a statement about a world surplus of wheat, but I ask what is the value of a surplus of wheat in the United States of America, or in Canada, if it cannot be shipped to the Near East, where it is required? The Australian carry-over of whea.t this year is the smallest for many years, yet the Government continues to pursue a policy of restriction of acreage. In such circumstances, is it any wonder that the wheat-farmers of this country complain? The Government has resorted to radio broadcasts and other means of propaganda in an endeavour to popularize its wheat stabilization scheme. Who pays for this propaganda? Will the cost come out of the already depleted funds of the Australian Wheat Pool? Will the expenditure be added to the costs that are being deducted from the returns to the farmers for their wheat? The liberty of the wheat-growers of this country is in clanger, and it is no wonder that the Government is losing its hold on the wheat-growing constituencies. I draw attention to regulation 4 of Statutory Rule No. 184 of 1941-
Regulation 9 of the National Security (Wheat Industry Stabilization) Regulations is amended -
The effect of that regulation will be to put out of production additional land, however desirable it may be to recrop it later. Regulation5 reads -
It would appear that regulations 11 and 12 were repealed because they were considered to be a little too liberal in that they may have given to the farmer a reasonable degree of control of his own property. The existing regulation means that a grazier whosows, say, 100 acres of wheat for hay must cut his crop whenever the agents of the board determine that it shall be cut. I speak on this subject as a practical manwho has cut thousands of tons of wheat for hay, and I say that when the ear is in the milky stage may not be the most desirable time to cut the wheat for hay. Many farmers like to see the grain in the ear before cutting the crop for hay.
The owner of the land, not some official who has no practical knowledge of wheat farming, should be the person to determine when the wheat shall be cut for hay. This regulation would not have been promulgated had its framers been practical wheat-farmers. An army of inspectors will be necessary to police these regulations. The wheat-farmers of this country do not want inspectors poking their noses into a business which they do not understand.
In my electorate there are many poultry farms and piggeries the owners of which desire to grow wheat for feeding their fowls or pigs, but until the amended regulations were gazetted they were not permitted to harvest 1 bushel of wheat for their own use. The regulation now reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this regulation, it shall be lawful, until the thirty-first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and forty-two, for a person who is not a wheatgrower to harvest wheat for grain for his own use if the area, or aggregate of the areas, of the land from which he harvests the wheat does not exceed ten acres.
That is a senseless limitation on, say, a grazier who grows wheat for stock feed, because in a bad season 10 acres might produce only 30 bags of wheat, whereas his needs would probably be more like 100 bags. The limitation, if any, should be on quantity, not on acreage. If the farmers revolted against the scheme and declared their intention to work out their own destiny in a common sense way no one could blame them. Given the opportunity, the Labour party will take immediate steps to remedy the most unsatisfactory position in which the Australian wheat-farmers have been placed.
– I shall make a few brief remarks on the international situation in answer to statements by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), that the danger of the position in the Pacific is exaggerated. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), in an excellent speech, asked us to prepare our defences so that we shall be ready to die in the last ditch. It is futile to deny the imminence of our danger. The Russian position has deteriorated very seriously even while this Parliament has been in session, the Vichy Government seems likely to gamble on a German victory, and Japan seems set on a policy of southward aggression. Against the remarks of the honorable members for Capricornia, Barton and East Sydney, I shall give to this House a few of the things that the Japanese broadcasters have been telling the Japanese people in the last few weeks. The Pacific crisis developed on the 17th July, when Prince Konoye formed a stronger government to carry out on stronger lines Matsuoka’s southward policy. On that day Radio Tokyo announced -
Japan’s policy remains the same. The solution of the southern problem is becoming a matter of vital urgency.
The first step, as every one knows, was the occupation of Indo-Ohina. That was preceded by typical Axis propaganda that we were about to invade Indo-C’hina and that we were encircling Japan. On the 22-nd July Radio Tokyo announced -
Such a situation must be regarded as most grave and it is quite clear that we must fight this matter out.
On the 26th July, Japan announced that it had an agreement with Vichy to occupy Indo-China. The Japanese Cabinet met on the 29th July, and at the beginning of August the Japanese started a campaign against Thailand exactly similar to that which they had waged so successfully against Indo-China. Throughout early August the Japanese broadcasters announced, on typically German lines, .that we were about to invade Thailand. Australia,’ for lexample, had recruited a force of 600,000 men and waa moving troops up to the Thai frontier. On the night of the 11th August, the day on which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) returned from Adelaide after cancelling his tour of Western Australia, Radio Tokyo announced to the Japanese people, in Japanese, that the present situation could be described by only one phrase, “It is touch and go”. In spite of that, the honorable members for Capricornia, Barton and East Sydney have told us that the dangers in the Pacific situation are exaggerated.
So much for the Japanese broadcast news of the imminence of warfare in the Pacific. Let me examine the two or three well-known facts in the general position. The course of events will v’ery likely be controlled by inescapable facts of race, economics and geography, all of which are likely to create grave dangers. The Japanese have embarked on a policy of southward aggression, and they have published that policy and, because they are Orientals, they cannot abandon it without “ loss of face which to the Oriental is vital. That is why they speak about their immutable policy, their unchangeable policy, of southward aggression. I need not emphasize that danger. The second great danger lies in the geographic and economic facts. Japan must have oil for both its war needs and its civil needs. It has been put in a strait-jacket by the policies of the United States of America and the Netherlands East Indies, its chief suppliers. Japan used to get two-thirds of its oil from the United States of America but that source has been cut off. The United States of America has also cut off supplies of high grade spirit foi aeroplanes. The obvious area to which Japan might move, therefore, is the Netherlands East Indies, which produces 50,000,000 barrels of oil a year. Japan’s yearly needs are 25,000,000 barrels foi civilian use alone. Japan, it is true, has laid in stocks, but there is a very real danger that the oil position may come to a crisis. That leads me to a consideration of the strategic position in the Pacific and the facts which should be clearly grasped by all Australians. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) has said that our destinies depend on sea-power in the Pacific, and, for two reasons, the destinies of Australia now depend upon Singapore. The first reason is that modern fleets of battleships, with their accompanying vessels, have a very short range, a range of only about 2,000 miles. Hawaii, the great American base, is about 5,000 miles from Australia, whereas Singapore is only about 2,000 miles away. The second point, which has not been emphasized in this House, is that Singapore is the only base in the western Pacific that has the docks for the repair of dreadnought battleships.
Without Singapore, it would be tremendously difficult, if not impossible, for either Great Britain or the United States of America to give adequate help to Australia. I submit that Singapore is not an outer bastion of this country; it is a keep within our inner walls.
I agree with a great deal of what was said by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but I do emphasize that we cannot save Australia only by action within Australia. If President Roosevelt and his advisers believe, a3 they do, that, if the British Empire falls, the dictators will immediately destroy the United States of America, a country of 140,000,000 people with some of the greatest resources upon earth, what chance have 7,000,000 people in- a vast continent such as this? I believe with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that we need defences in Australia. We need adequate defences against raids and blockades, which would come, in all probability, before an invasion, but I do say that the defences of Australia lie outside Australia, and that we can save this country only by co-operating to the utmost with the great democracies that are supporting us so splendidly.
.- Realizing that opportunity to debate the Government’s financial policy will be presented when the budget is brought down, I did not intend to intrude myself into this debate, and I should not have done so had it not been for my dissatisfaction’ with answers supplied to questions directed by me to Ministers. Dissatisfied with the way in which the Government intends to administer the control of the coal-mining industry, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) whether the 8 per cent, profit which was to be allowed to coal-owners meant S per cent, on their original capital or 8 per cent, on their enormously inflated capital and watered stocks. I shall not read the answer, because it is already in Hansard, but across the foot of it I have scrawled “ bunk “, and that is all it is. The Prime Minister did not even attempt to answer the question. In order to show how the coal-miming companies have inflated their capital, I refer the House to figures which I gave in 1924 and 1925. They relate to the same companies and the same people control them now as then. It was in the period from 1908 to 1923-24 that the enormous watering of stocks took place in Australia. The Government of New South Wales, an anti-Labour government, I think, set up a royal commission) to inquire into the coal-mining companies, and the fact which convinces me that it was an anti-Labour government is that in order that the public would not know which company was specified in the report, each company was identified by a number. In order to discover which company was referred to it was necessary to refer to an. index. Not long after the report had been placed in the archives of the Parliament of New South Wales, the identifying list was by some means either lost or destroyed ; consequently, the names of the companies cannot be given and they must be referred to only by numbers. The original authorized capital of one company was £7S0,000, of which all but £5,000 was paid up. In 1920, the assets of the company, including disclosed reserves amounting to £56,000, were revalued, and the company was reconstructed with a capital of £3,000,000 without raising another penny. The Commonwealth now intends to allow a profit of 8 per cent, to be made on that £3,000,000!
The Sydney Daily Telegraph, referring to the Bellambi Coal Company, in my electorate, published the following statement in one of its issues: -
In 1912 this company had a capital of £250,000. Whether this represented hard cash, or whether reserves hod been capitalized prior to that date, is not stated; but it is admitted that, in October, 1912, the capital had increased from £250,000 to £400,000, by capitalizing £150,000 of its reserves.
That royal commission, whose findings arc at the disposal of the Government, showed that there was not a coal company which had not watered its stocks. A profit of 8 per cent, on £3,000,000 is scandalous profiteering by a company whose original capital of £780,000 was not increased by public subscription.
– Does the honorable member say that the answer given by the Prime Minister implies that such a profit is to be allowed?
– No other inference is possible. The right honorable gentleman replied to me in the following terms : -
I refer the honorable member to section 22 (i) of the National Security (Coal Control) Regulations, which provides as follows: -
– (i) The Governor-General may, by order, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, limit the rate of profit to be derived from any coal mine or group of coal mines owned by one owner (not including profits derived from collateral investments) to Eight pounds per centum per annum, or such less percentage per annum as is specified in the order, on the working capital (as approved by the Governor-General) of the mine or group of mines, taking into account such allowances as the Governor-General in his discretion thinks fit for amortization of wasting assets and buildings, depreciation of plant, fires, falls, and other extraordinary occurrences, and other recognized outgoings.
Does the Minister suggest that any of these companies will be compelled by the Governor-General - which means the Government - to de- water its stocks? I recently asked the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) a question in relation to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the real dictator in this country, which has instructed the Government, despite the humiliations of the last few weeks, to hang on to office like a limpet. That company has had the audacity to disclose in its balancesheet that it made last year a profit of £2,500,000. Its original capital was less than £5,000,000. An investigation of its affairs would show that its return is greater than 50 per centon the capital originally invested. Its capital rose to £7,000,000, then . to £15,000,000, and later to £25,000,000 like a mushroom - almost overnight. If the Government wishes to prove to the people that it is not permitting profiteering, I invite it to take action similar to that taken by Lloyd George in Great Britain in 1916 - instal a costing system in connexion with the operations of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other monopolies which are making huge profits out of the war. I guarantee that the result would be to disclose in this country a condition of affairs similar to that revealed by Lloyd George in Great Britain in 1916 - £165 being charged for a Lewis gun which the British Go vernment afterwards made for £25, and 25s. 6d. a shell, compared with a cost of 12s. when made by the Government. The result of the installation of the costing system in the munition works was to save Great Britain £500,000,000 in twelve months. That statement was made by Lloyd George, as Prime Minister of Great Britain, in the House of Commons. Until the Commonwealth Government acts similarly, it will not convince me or any member of the general public that profiteering is not being practised and that it is not standing behind the profiteers.
The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully), in his admirable speech, referred to the refusal to allow the poultry-farmer to grow wheat for his own use. I do not know what the poultry- farmer or the pig-raiser has to pay for the wheat that he needs for feed purposes, but when my wife purchases half a bushel of inferior stuff, plentifully mixed with black thistles, she has to pay 5s. for it. Yet it is claimed that there is no profiteering! The price may sometimes be 4s. 9d. or 4s. b’d. a half-bushel, but most often it is 5s. This is a scandalous state of affairs. I should like to hear what views are held concerning it by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). Is he prepared to make representations on the subject to the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), who is supposed to represent primary producing interests in the Cabinet? When I questioned that right honorable gentleman, he side-stepped me. The farmer wants to know from those who misrepresent him in this Parliament, what action they propose to take to protect the interests of the producers.
I recently took part in a deputation on behalf of inmates of Waterfall Sanatorium who are suffering from tuberculosis. The Sydney Sunday Sun published the statement that two persons had died from tuberculosis in their own homes, because they could not get into a sanatorium or receive treatment elsewhere. Medical opinion and vital statistics support the view that tuberculosis is the most prolific cause of death at the most valuable period of human life, namely, between the ages of 25 and 45 years. A lot is said concerning death from cancer; but a perusal of vital statistics will show that most of the deaths from this disease occur among elderly people of 60, 70 and 80 years of age. The inmates of Waterfall desire to have the pension rate increased. It is ridiculous to assume that a sufferer from tuberculosis, who needs so many nourishing foods, can exist on the invalid pension; he can merely wilt and die. The officers in charge of these patients treat them very sympathetically. The head of the Waterfall Sanatorium is most sympathetic. I am informed that medical officers attached to the Department of Health would confirm the statement that the belief of expert medical opinion in Australia to-day is that, if finance were provided which would enable the history of cases to be recorded from one generation to another, and measures to be taken to control the spread of the disease, it could be eradicated from Australia within a period of 40 years. This dread scourge kills more persons, and causes more havoc to the human frame, than is caused even by wars ; yet there is the firm belief that it could be eradicated in 40 years, if sufficient finance were provided for the purpose ! Failure to make such provision would be a poor commentary on our civilization. On behalf of these sufferers, whom I often see, I appeal to the Government to consider the matter. Heroic men and women are improvising all sorts of conditions in order to make up for the inadequacy of the accommodation caused by the shortage of finance. If we say that no money is available for this humane purpose, we show ourselves almost unbelievably callous. I hope that this matter will be taken out of the hands of the State governments and that the National Parliament will deal with it effectively. I have no interest in the application of money terms to this scourge. Whether it be estimated that the eradication measures would cost £1,000,000, £10,000,000 or £50,000,000, such measures will some day have to be put in hand, and this Parliament will have to accept the responsibility for them. The responsibility should therefore be accepted now.
– I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Government certain matters that I consider to be of importance to the nation at large and to my constituents in particular. The opportunities given to honorable members to discuss in Parliament matters of domestic consequence to their electors, and also the more serious subjects of international importance, are not so numerous as they should be. The fairly frequent but very short meetings of the Parliament which the Government arranges are occupied with business which the Ministry considers important, and it is regarded as almost a crime for a private member to introduce, on the motion for adjournment or in other ways open to him, even matters which he regards as vital to his constituents. There is no need for the Government to adopt such an attitude. The parliamentary sittings should be arranged so as to afford ample opportunity for ail honorable members to submit business which they feel to be in the interests of the national well-being. I know that Ministers are kept busy with their departmental duties, but that does not in any way vitiate my plea for more consideration for private members.
During this debate frequent references have been made to the wheat stabilization scheme, and to the proposals of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) for the conservation of fodder. The adoption of a nation-wide fodder conservation scheme has been a “ pet “ of the right honorable gentleman for a good many years. I offer no objection to his ideal, but I assert, without fear of effective contradiction, that the scheme outlined in the recently issued regulation* is totally impracticable for the ordinary farmer and quite impossible of policing by any method so far suggested. It is ridiculous to suggest that a farmer could be told what time he must cut a particular crop, cure it and stack it for hay. Frequently, a crop grown for wheat may give a good yield of grain although the stalks are only a foot high. Such a crop would be quite unsuitable for hay. That is only one phase of the subject. The most effective method of fodder conservation would be the storage of grain which can be handled much more economically and in a much smaller space than hay. Grain can also be protected from weevil; and, if necessary, it can subsequently be gristed or treated in a way suitable for feeding to any kind of stock. The Commonwealth Government could save the farmers a great deal of money by subsidizing some form of grain conservation. Such a scheme would also provide a reserve supply of grain to meet an emergency due to the war or, for that matter, to adverse seasonal conditions. Everybody interested in rural production knows that the indifferent season being experienced throughout almost the whole of the wheat belt in this country this year makes it possible for the present production plans, based on a degree of restriction to bring about a shortage of our internal requirements. It is dangerous to restrict production in this way. The regulations issued in relation to the fodder conservation scheme clearly indicate the necessity for calling into consultation practical men who have a wide knowledge of Australian conditions. The present advisers of the Minister do not seem to be sufficiently informed of the problems with which they are dealing.
I now wish to discuss briefly the superphosphate position. I understand that the price of superphosphate has again been increased by 32s. a ton. This is a heavy additional burden for farmers to carry. I do not know what justification has been given for the increase. I had hoped that the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who has a special knowledge of the subject, would have given us some reasons.
– Nauru rock, which could be landed in Australia at 28s. a ton pre-war, now costs 100s. a ton to land, due to the increase of shipping freights.
– I am not in a position to discuss the justification for such a heavy increase of shipping freights, but I can say definitely that it will be quite unfair to allow the burden of them to rest on the shoulders of the primary producers who must use superphosphate, to produce their crops and top-dress their pastures. What has happened in this connexion illustrates clearly the wisdom of maintaining a Government line of steamers. If the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers were available to-day the position of the primary producers would be very different from what it is. Every individual associated with industry, whether primary or secondary, looks to the Government to make plans to cope with abnormal situations. If a previous government had not been so foolish as to sell the Government shipping line established during the last war, the ships would have been available to-day to meet with this emergency. It is unjust to oppress the primary producers with the increased price of superphosphate. I understand that the Government of New Zealand is bearing practically the whole of the increased cost of superphosphate, and it is imperative that the Commonwealth Government should come to the rescue of our primary producers in this connexion.
I come now to a rather delicate subject. I consider that the attitude adopted by the proprietors of the metropolitan press throughout the Commonwealth in relation to Japan has not been conducive to peace or to an amicable settlement of the differences that exist between that country and Australia. If ever there was good reason for using the censorship it was provided in numerous comments published by the metropolitan press on Japanese and Australian relations. By their antagonistic and provocative statements the newspapers aggravated the difficulties of the position. 1 have my own views concerning the rights and wrongs of the position, but I shall not enlarge upon them at ihe moment. I refer to the subject in order to urge the Government to take cognizance of the attitude of the metropolitan press and to consider whether it would not be wise to restrain newspapers from making attacks on Japan, which must prejudice any diplomatic approaches between the two countries.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) on the possibilities of discovering flow oil on the mainland of Australia, but I also emphasize the importance of exploring every possibility of discovering flow oil in commercial quantities in the mandated territory of New Guinea. It passes my comprehension why the Government should rigidly adhere to regulations under which a company is prevented from making explorations in certain parts of the mandated territory, particularly as it has intimated that it is willing to agree ,to any reasonable conditions which the Government may impose, even to paying the expenses of a Government representative if one should be appointed to accompany any prospecting party. Many statements have been made from time to time to the effect that major oil companies are preventing exploratory and developmental work from being undertaken. Whether these statements are true I cannot say, but I am inclined to believe that if oil has actually been discovered, it would be almost impossible for the oil companies to prevent the development of the fields. Oil is badly needed by Australia. If there is any possibility of discovering flow oil on either the. mainland or the mandated territory, the Government should sweep aside all restraining regulations and allow an exploration to .proceed under commonsense and reasonable conditions. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of the search for oil and its development in the interests of our internal economy and defence.
Many hardships have been imposed upon industry in Australia through the petrol-rationing scheme. The motor industry, in particular has been hard bit. I consider that the people engaged in this industry .are as loyal as any other section of the community, and. “.re quite prepared to accept their share of the burden occasioned by the shortage of petrol, provided that they are given a fair deal. The information furnished to the House by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and others indicates that every attempt that has been made to restrict the consumption of petrol in Australia has resulted m the diverting of tankers from Australia to some other country. In certain instances, the tankers have gone to countries which cannot be regarded as particularly friendly to Australia. Such a policy is not in our best interests. Undue hardship has been imposed on the motor industry, garage-owners, and primary producers who have to rely upon the use, in one form or another, of motor vehicles and oil fuel for the conduct of their businesses. This matter should be looked into more fully. The Government should take whatever steps are open to it to obtain greater supplies of petrol from the Dutch East Indies, and elsewhere. That, in conjunction with the production of power alcohol, would go a long way towards meeting the situation in the near future. I appeal to the Government to do what it can in that direction.
From time to time in this House, I have appealed to the Government to make some efforts to stabilize the finances of the primary producers. From personal experience and a long association with the wheat-growers’ organizations, I have a very intimate knowledge of the problem, particularly from the wheatgrowers’ point of view. A great deal has been done by past governments to alleviate the position of the growers by the provision of bounties and advances for the adjustment of farmers’ debts, but all of that will go for nought unless the Government is prepared to come down with a comprehensive scheme to provide long-term finance for the farmers. It is of no use to make money available to the farmers if it goes straight to their creditors. Past efforts to improve the lot of the farmers have been merely like injections of oxygen to keep patients alive, and their position has quickly reverted to its former seriousness. The farmers ask for the establishment of a mortgage bank. The Government has the necessary authority to create such an institution which would give a new lease of life and stability to the farming community. In the meantime, until that facility has been provided, something along the lines of a restricted moratorium should be introduced. Many farmers have been forced off their land. Members of both sexes of the younger generation have walked off the farms and gone to the cities where they can get remunerative employment in munitions factories and industries associated with the war effort. They will never return to the land. The Government will have to stem the drift to the cities by providing the rural population with a standard of living comparable with that of every section of the industrial community. Many of those who have pioneered the primary industries, whose sons are in the fighting forces, and whose daughters are assisting in the war effort, have ‘been squeezed’ off the land by the rapacity of tie financial institutions. I say to the Government in all seriousness that it cannot afford to put off remedial measures any longer. From time to time I have raised in this House, and I have stressed throughout the whole of the rural areas of Australia - I have covered them all in recent months as a member of a parliamentary committee - the matter of the decentralization of war industries. As the result of the exodus of population from the country to the cities, and the enlistment of rural workers in the armed forces, a depression has developed in practically all primary industries. The prices received by the primary producers are unpayable, towns and villages are contracting, and rural businesses are closing down. Country people who have built up their businesses over many years are being squeezed out in this process. How much longer will this Government tolerate the boosting of business in the large cities and the establishment of the main branches of our defence activities near the cities or on the seaboard? That policy has been condemned by all right-thinking people. If it be continued, we may become an easy victim if an enemy comes here - and the Government has been emphasizing how soon he may come. The Government must do something to rectify the position before it is too late. The people are saying to me, “You hold the balance of power in the House; what are you doing about it?” My reply is that the statement that I hold the balance of power is based on an illusion. Unless there is a challenge, there is no balance of power, and there has been no challenge so far. I fail to see why any government, composed of so many representatives of rural constituencies as is this one, should pursue a policy which has been condemned as criminal by the military authorities who have strategic knowledge of the matter. Millions of pounds are. being spent on defence activities - and rightly so - and I believe that lavish expenditure on defence will have to be continued after the war, because I fear that the Pacific will not be so trouble-free in the future as it has been in the past. Let us, therefore, make a start now to decentralize these industries in the interest of the nation generally and also in order to provide some compensating factor to those who live in country districts. Unless we adopt a definite policy of decentralization of not only war industries but also other industries, and the Government is prepared to write off any economic loss that may be involved in it, the country towns will share the fate of many of our mining towns. If steps be not taken to stop the drift to the bloated and boosted capital cities of the States, the country towns and country people will be reduced to a position of almost serfdom, and the agricultural industies will be doomed. I appeal to those members representing rural constituencies to make a stand and ensure .that the Government does something to avoid such a happening. I have not yet seen any definite evidence of real planning for the post-war period. I am aware that a parliamentary committee, and also an outside body, have been appointed by the Government to inquire into this matter, but so far I have not seen any evidence of a post-war plan for the development of rural industries after the war. We know not how soon we may be faced with the problem of repatriating those hundreds of thousands of our young men who have gone overseas to fight for the Empire. What does the Government propose to do in that direction ?
On every hand we see evidence of rising prices and profiteering. Although some efforts have been made to control prices of major lines of commodities, the vast emporiums in the big cities are exploiting, the position and charging prices that are far in advance of what they should be. The fact that there happens to be a shortage of a commodity in Australia is no justification for people who have large stocks of that commodity exploiting the people as they are doing to-day. Some system of controlling wholesale and retail prices should be introduced and the fixed prices published from time to time. Firms disregarding them should be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law.
I propose now to refer to the establishment of distilleries for the manufacture of power alcohol. I have received letters and telegrams from practically every town in my electorate, and, indeed, from other centres also, asking me to use my influence to have a distillery established in its particular locality. I shall be quite satisfied if the Government will establish a. distillery in the heart of the wheat areas. I understand that a distillery is to be established in each of the wheat-growing States. In my opinion, regardless of financial considerations, the production of power alcohol should be split up between two or three distilleries in each of the States. That, of course, involves a question of high policy. I trust that no distilleries for the manufacture of power alcohol will be established in the metropolitan areas, or anywhere near them, and that the matter will be treated as urgent, as this is the major way in which the Government could assist the country districts which need help so badly to-day. I have no desire to protract this debate as I know that a lot of excitement is simmering in the vicinity of this building because of the uncertainties of the political situation. I trust that these difficulties will be overcome in the near future in a way which the people are expecting, and that we shall be able to get on with our job of marshalling the resources of the nation for an all-in war effort and providing a reasonable measure of economic security for all of our people.
– Earlier this afternoon the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) referred to an incident in which a young Tasmanian airman was involved.
– I said not one airman, but four._
– I understood the honorable member to make particular reference to one member of the Air Force. I know some of the facts of the case, and I propose to relate them. The airman to whose case the honorable member specially directed his remarks is the son of a very honorable family, the members of which have a high record of public service. This young airman, as the honorable member said, has no fewer than three brothers serving with the Australian Imperial Force. While serving in the air establishment at Western Junction in Tasmania, this young man, in company with three other airmen, all of whom were acting as guards at that establishment, absented himself without leave from his station. In accordance with normal military practice, the commanding officer directed the military police to apprehend them and return them to their station, and, at the same time, invoked the aid of the civil police, as is customary in such cases. After a short lapse of time the men were returned to their station by the civil police and, in accordance with normal custom, were immediately placed in a detention cell pending disciplinary action being taken against them. Whereupon they proceeded to engage in a more or less continuous disturbance in the course of which the lock of the cell door was broken. It was reported to me - and I have no doubt accurately - that one of the men then left the detention cell and entered the sergeants’ quarters and upset them pretty thoroughly. In short, in the height of their spirit, these four lads made it quite clear that no detention cell would hold them. To avoid the necessity for the guards taking violent action against them in order to control them they were removed to the local civil gaol.
– Does the Minister agree that it was right that they should he taken to a civil gaol ?
– In the circumstances, yes. I agree that the officer of the air force establishment, finding it impossible to confine them in the normal detention cell, acted rightly in having them removed to a place where they could be held in circumstances in which their safety would not be endangered by a possible clash with other guards attempting to control them. After three days they were returned to the detention cell, and the appropriate charges were preferred against them. They were dealt with in the normal manner by court martial and sentenced to varying periods of detention, the non-commissioned officers being reduced to the ranks. As the periods of detention were more than the maximum time which can be served in a detention cell at the station to which they were attached, they were removed to the air force establishment in Victoria, which is provided for the purpose of detaining men under sentence.
– They wanted certain grievances to be brought up before the commanding officer.
– I have made an exhaustive inquiry on that point and the report made to me at my request by the air force senior officer is as follows: -
No complaint by any of them was made to the commanding officer prior to their being absent without leave. He is unable to make any comment on the last portion of the telegram relating to the men’s actions being a protest against injurious shifts on night duty, as none of the men to his knowledge has ever made any complaint specifically referring to discrimination in connexion with night duties.
– Werethe shifts altered after the boys created the disturbance?
– I have no information in regard to that matter. The honorable member claims that the shifts were altered, and I accept his statement, because no doubt he has obtained accurate information on that subject. The point I wish to make is that discipline must be maintained. In the Royal Australian Air Force, as in the other fighting services, there is a regular and ever-ready means by which men can communicate their grievances to their commanding officers. These men - several of them were non-commissioned officers, and as such would have full knowledge of the appropriate steps to take - did not make the proper approach. On the contrary, they absented themselves without leave, and so became subject to the normal disciplinary measures.
I regret the circumstances, particularly in respect of the lad in whom the honorable member for Franklin is especially interested. No Australian family has a better record of service in the Military Forces than has the family to which that boy belongs.
– Will the Minister undertake that boys will not be placed in a civil gaol again?
– I cannot give that undertaking.
– Cannot the lads be controlled in camp?
– Normally when men are detained in the appropriate camp detention cells - I have inspected these cells and they are reasonably comfortable - there is no need for the use of a civil prison. If, however, the men break out of these cells, as they did in this instance, there is no choice but to remove them to a civil gaol. It is impossible for me to give the assurance asked for by the honorable member.
– How are the cells constructed?
– They are made of timber, and are part and parcel of the guard house. They are boarded up to a certain height above which cyclone wire forms the remainder of the wall.
I repeat that I regret the circumstances, particularly as they have affected the family in which the honorable member is interested, but contend that the happenings should be regarded as a result of the natural exuberance of youth, and not carrying with them any lasting civic stain. I hope that the parents will recognize that that is the case.
Sitting suspended from6.22 to 8 p.m.
.-I shall not mention to-night many of the important matters that have been discussed in this debate because I understand that, within a few weeks, we shall have further opportunities to do so during the budget debate. However, I shall refer to several matters, which relate mainly to administration, because I believe that, if they were allowed to stand over until next month, it would be too late to obtain redress of wrongs that are being done by Government departments. The high-handed action taken by the Army authorities and the Department of the Interior in securing office accommodation for service departments is causing a great deal of concern to people in Melbourne. I realize that it is important for these administrative bodies to have proper accommodation, but the method of acquiring it has caused considerable friction amongst many different classes of people. Some time ago, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) raised the subject of the eviction of tenants from the London Stores Building, Melbourne, and I now protest against the paucity of the information supplied by the Government in answer to his questions. He was asked to accept the excuse that a great deal of clerical work and expense would be involved in providing complete answers to his questions, and I did not want to add to such expense by pressing for answers to similar questions. As the result, we are not in possession of the details of rentals paid by the Government for temporary office accommodation. [ protest against the apparent desire of “ brass hats “ and other officials of war service departments to occupy the best available premises, even for temporary purposes. There were a number of small tenants in the London Stores Building, which is in a central situation. Those of us who objected to their eviction were told : “ But they are only small people “. At that time it appeared that the departmental authorities were harassing only unimportant tenants, but they have gone further since then and are now evicting firms which have been established in various premises for years. This policy has been adopted in order that government departments may remain close to the heart of the city. I could condone the serving of these peremptory notices of eviction if the departments concerned were . unable to find premises elsewhere, but that is not the position.. One honorable member was informed, in answer to a question which he asked earlier in these sittings, that no less than £63,000 is being paid annually by the Government for office rentals in Melbourne. The Government tells us that it is planning its war expenditure on a four-year basis. In that event, it should not evict these firms but should build temporary offices close to or in the city. Plenty of land is available quite close to the city in the electorate of Melbourne Ports for instance. Such buildings would cost less than the annual rental for office space. The Government’s policy is uneconomic, and J charge it with carelessness in its supervision of public expenditure, and with harshness in its treatment of persons whom it has evicted. The latest case to come to my notice is that of a firm which is doing a great deal of war work, James Balfour and Company Proprietary Limited, manufacturers of baths, and engaged in the production of hot-water services, and stoves. The company’s offices are situated in Henty House, Little Collins-street. The company has been established there for many years, and has spent thousands of pounds in fitting out display floors. It has now received abrupt notice that “the directorate of Machine Tools and Gauges proposes to take over a complete floor of that building. I appreciate the fact that the directorate needs additional office accommodation, but, not far from Henty House, there are premises, quite adequate for the directorate’s purposes, which are now vacant. I refer to the old Mutual Life and Citizens building on the corner of Collins and “William streets and Craig, Williamson and Company’s building in Elizabeth-street. The honorable member for Melbourne and Senator Cameron both drew the attention of Ministers to that building, but they were informed that it was unsuitable for the department’s purposes. They were told that the lift accommodation was inadequate, and that the stairways were too narrow. Apparently nothing is too good, and vacant places are not good enough, for any branch of the war service departments which wants a new suite of offices. Perhaps this accommodation will be occupied before long by the servants of a more deserving government, but nevertheless I deplore wasteful expenditure on luxurious offices. In war-time our officers should have reasonably furnished, well lighted and comfortable offices, but luxury is not necessary. I am aware that government departments are located in the old Rialto and Olderfleet buildings in Collins-street, but, in the same street, the Department of Munitions occupies a palatial suite of offices. The Department of Labour and National Service also occupies palatial offices. James Balfour and Company has informed the Directorate of Machine Tools and Gauges, through the Army Hirings Department, that the eviction will cause great inconvenience because of the difficulty of finding suitable premises elsewhere and of transferring costly fixtures. I point out to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) that, in Craig Williamson and Company’s building, which is centrally situated in Elizabeth-street, there is a total of 50,000 square feet of vacant floor space. Nevertheless, the only government department located there is the Paymaster’s Section of the Army, which uses only a small area. There are other vacant offices not far from the heart of the city. One of these is the Mutual Life and Citizens building at the corner of William-street and Collins-street, which has three vacant floors providing 4,000 square feet of office space on each floor, a total of 12,000 cubic feet. It is only about 200 yards distant from Henty House. I see no reason why the Government should not occupy that building. Not more than one-third of a mile farther away, in Collins-street, is another empty building which was used by McLeod and McArthur. It provides 4,000 square feet of office space. An inventory of vacant office accommodation within the city of Melbourne would show that there is plenty of room for the expansion of government departments. The Government cannot expect to be popular when it permits its departments to commandeer accommodation as they have done. The action taken in many cases has been unjust and harsh.
-Some of those departments ought to be situated in Canberra.
– Whilst I agree with that, I am referring particularly now to what is being done in Melbourne. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) obtained information about this sort of wasteful expenditure in answer to a question which he asked some time ago. It seems that the Government is paying huge sums annually for office rentals in all capital cities, but the waste in Melbourne is greater than elsewhere. I shall not be content to leave the matter as it stands. If the Government will not remedy the trouble immediately, I, and other honorable members from the metropolitan area of Victoria, will continue to press for reform. The Government may ask me where it can find space to erect temporary accommodation such as I have suggested. I anticipate the question by pointing out that plenty of space is available at Fisherman’s Bend, and that the cost of erecting temporary buildings would probably amount to less than rentals for, say, a period of two years. Many of the firms which have been evicted are engaged in war work. At present, the staff of James Balfour and Company is working overtime. Some of its officials have enlisted in the armed forces, and it is endeavouring to fulfil war contracts with a skeleton staff. However, in spite of this, the Government has given it practically 48 hours’ notice to vacate its premises. On the25th August, it received a curt letter from the Directorate of Hirings of the Australian Military Forces, Southern Command, stating that the premises would have to be vacated. Employees of this department walked right through a poultry-farmer’s premises at Maribyrnong, knocked down his fences, laid drains on his property, and allowed his live stock to run loose. When the farmer objected to the labourers, they said that they were acting under instructions, and that he would have to see the “ heads “. He could not find the “ heads “. The letter to James Balfour and Company was couched in the following terms : -
National Security (General) Regulations. Occupation - Henty House. Hirings Serial 1260.
I am directed to inform you that a possession orderhas been signed by the Quartermaster-General authorizing entry of the premises occupied by you on the second floor, 409-501 Little Collins-street, Melbourne.
You will, therefore, please make arrangements to give the Department of Munitions vacant possession of these premises by a o’clock on the afternoon of Thursday, 28th August, 1941.
That is a callous method of doing business, and it is altogether unnecessary. It is time that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) took steps to prevent its continuance. On the 26th August, James Balfour and Company sent the following reply to the Directorate of Hirings: -
We are in receipt of your communication No. 76,199 of 25th instant, and feel that we must point out that it is physically impossible for us to give possession of our offices within 48 hours. Even had we a suitable suite of offices available, it would take us at least a weekor two to fit them up and to remove fittings from our existing premises.
In the circumstances,we feel that the peremptory nature of your demand could, with advantage, be modified and give us a reasonable opportunity of making arrangements to vacate the premises, especially as we were under the impression that arrangements were being made to avoid disturbing us in our present offices.
By allowing this sort of thing to continue, the Minister for the Army shows that he is either incompetent or complacent enough to allow people to be thrown out of their offices without regard for their rights. I have before me the case of a firm of solicitors named McNab and McNab. I have no reason to think that the partners are political supporters of mine, but they are my constituents and I am impelled to mention their case sympathetically because they are being treated unfairly. They have been given notice to vacate 1,000 square feet of floor space in the Royal Insurance Building in Collinsstreet. On the same floor an insurance company, which has ample space, has not, so I am informed, been troubled at all. I do not suggest that some members, or supporters, of the Government are directors of that company. However, it seems that this small firm of solicitors has been treated most unfairly. It has been greatly inconvenienced, because two male members of the staff have enlisted and another has been called up for compulsory training, whilst the older member of the firm is not in sufficiently good health to shoulder the worry of arranging for the firm’s removal. All of the remainder of the staff are females. Such action, to say the least, is most irritating and unfair. If the Government is not prepared to rectify these complaints it should be censured. These complaints follow the taking over of a portion of the London Stores Building by the Taxation Department. Various Commonwealth departments are taking over offices in buildings situated in the centre of Melbourne simply because other accommodation which is available is not so convenient. The lifts may be a little too small/ or the buildings may not contain, marble halls and, therefore, do not possess very attractive entrances or conveniences. This accommodation is being forced on other people, and long-established tenants in more centrally situated buildings are being ejected simply because Commonwealth Government departments deem them to be more desirable. Surely Ministers whose departments are involved have some responsibility in these matters. Yet complaints of this kind which have been made by honorable members on both sides of the House are repeatedly disregarded. The failure of the Government to deal with such complaints is exasperating. So long as it refuses to heed the representations of honorable members in matters of this kind it cannot expect the House to give a smooth passage to a Supply bill or to the budget. Evidence has been tendered to bodies which have been inquiring into this matter, that in respect of offices and floor space occupied by various departments, the Government is expending annually £70,685 in Melbourne and £52,868 in Sydney. Such expenditure cannot be justified, when the Government owns land in Sydney and Melbourne, on which it could construct offices and other accommodation which it needs. I urge the Government to reconsider its present policy of renting office space from private people. I intended to ask a series of questions on this matter, but as I was informed by the honorable member for Melbourne that the department concerned had represented to him that the Government would be put to considerable expense in supplying the information he desired, I desisted from doing so. I am still hopeful that the Government will give immediate consideration to the case of James Balfour and Company, and will treat that company in a manner worthy of the good work it is doing in our war effort. I also hope that the proposal to take possession of premises occupied by Messrs. McNab and McNab will be reconsidered and withdrawn in view of the circumstances of the case. I should like to know what area of floor space has been taken over in buildings in the city of Melbourne by the Departments of the Army, the Navy, Air, Supply and Development, and other departments associated with defence and war activities. I suggest that such information would amaze all honorable members. I repeat that sufficient space to meet the Government’s requirements is available in unoccupied buildings in Melbourne. Government departments, however, are too proud to occupy such premises. That state of affairs must be remedied.
Another matter to which I wish to draw attention relates to hospital accommodation. Considerable sums of money have been raised by voluntary subscription in the. suburbs of Footscray and Essendon for the purpose of providing essential hospital accommodation in those areas. With sufficient money in hand to undertake such work, the interested people in Essendon have applied to the State Government and the Commonwealth Treasurer for authority to proceed with the erection of the necessary buildings. They do not want government assistance. All they require is authority to proceed. In the case of the Essendon Community Hospital that has been refused.
– That is purely a State matter.
– I understand that the consent of the Co-ordinator-
General ofWorks must be secured before such work can be undertaken.
– And the State has to agree to undertake the work.
– The Commonwealth Government has some responsibility in this matter, because it has provided by regulation that buildings costing over a certain amount cannot be constructed without its consent. Although, at present, there is a shortage in Victoria of bricklayers and other artisans associated with the building trades, the Government should favour the erection of hospital accommodation at present, as it is obvious that existing hospitals will be overtaxed when increasing numbers of members of the fighting forces are invalided home. In view of that need, the Government should not prevent thepublic-spirited citizens of Footscray and Essendon from providing essential local hospital accommodation. For that purpose the people of Footscray have raised £10,000 in cash, andprior to the Government’s restrictive action had already secured substantial hospital accommodation. That, however, can be used only for the treatment of injuries, and not for general hospital purposes such as is desired for local needs. Naturally, the people concerned are very critical of the attitude adopted by the Commonwealth Government in this matter. Many of the people in these suburbs are in need of hospital treatment but cannot get it; and it is not likely that their needs will be met even when the new Melbourne Hospital is completed.
Another matter to which I direct the attention of the Government concerns technical education. The technical schools at Footscray and Essendon are overcrowded because so many people are desirous of having their boys trained in fitting and turning and other metal trades whichare essential in munition production. As a member of a government committee which has conducted inquiries on this subject in all parts of Australia, I know that due to the urgent need for the production of munitions some machines and other tools are being taken out of technical colleges and being placed in factories engaged in production. To some degree such action may be necessary, but if we are to follow the programme which the Government has laid down as essential, we must ensure that our technical schools are properly equipped for training purposes. The Government should give more attention to this matter. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) stated some days ago that machine tools were becoming more freely available. I appeal to the Government to give consideration to the necessity for restoring all equipment which has been taken out of technical schools. Only in that way can we ensure that lads attending technical schools shall receive proper training. My complaint in this respect concerns some technical schools which I believe are situated in, or very near to, the electorate of the Treasurer. I again appeal to the Government to give attention to the complaints of people who are being ejected from offices in order to provide room for various government departments. I hope that this matter will not be left over until the budget is under consideration.
Mr.CHIFLEY (Macquarie) [8.25].- I desire to refer briefly to one matter which I shall characterize as the unbusinesslike methods adopted by several government departments in their dealings with the public. I refer particularly to the service departments and their methods of meeting debts due by them tomembers of the public in respect of services rendered or goods delivered. Cases are repeatedly brought to my notice of accounts being held up for many months. Such delays occur in respect of departmental dealings with not only public bodies but also with individual members of the public. In several cases the individuals concerned have been working on overdrafts. They have suppliedgoods to these departments but have been obliged to wait many months for payment. One or two service departments are very bad offenders in this respect. I have brought to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), or officers of his department, a number of these cases. I have also had referred to me a couple of very striking cases involving the Air Force, in which the transactions were of the simplest character. There seems to be something wrong in the working of the finance section of the service departments in New South Wales. I appeal to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) and to
Ministers in charge of departments which have business dealings with the public to adopt businesslike methods in order to meet their obligations in the same prompt manner which characterizes dealings between individuals.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford). Office and floor space has been taken over in buildings in the metropolitan cities by Commonwealth departments when suitable accommodation has been available elsewhere. The methods adopted by some departments in this respect are tyrannical. In several cases to which my attention has been drawn the department taking over property has given no notice at all of the area it required. There may be some reason for that; but, surely, no excuse can be offered for a delay of many months before the person whose property is taken over is enabled to obtain compensation. In some instances the delay is as long as six or seven months, and in isolated cases as long as twelve months. I do not expect Ministers concerned to know all of the details of every case, but officers, particularly in the service departments, whom the public are anxious to help in every way, should be able to manage these transactions more fairly from the point of view of the individuals concerned. The Area Board of Management of the Munition Department in New South Wales has established an enviable reputation for the promptness and fairness of its dealings with members of the public. That is really the only Commonwealth department in New South Wales, so far as I am aware, that meets its obligations promptly. It has adopted the practice ofmaking payments within three days of the date on which a debt is proved either for goods delivered or for services rendered. I shall not weary the House with other examples of the unbusinesslike methods adopted by Commonwealth departments in their dealings with the public, but such methods make many people feel that they might as well be under a dictator if such treatment is the best they can receive from a democratic government. Once a man has supplied goods, or rendered services, to a Commonwealth department he is entitled to prompt settlement of his account. At present, however, many people are obliged to enter into long correspondence with the departments concerned before they can receive a settlement. In some cases in which 1 have made personal representations direct to the departments concerned, the transactions involved were only of a minor character. I repeat that when a government department is obliged to requisition land or property occupied by private individuals reasonable notice of its intention should be given to the persons concerned, and immediately the property is taken over such individuals should be enabled either by arbitration, or through an independent tribunal, to obtain a progress payment or a determination of the compensation to which they are entitled. In some instances the land which is taken over is the only means of livelihood the owner possesses. I appeal to the Government to give favorable consideration to my suggestions.
Mr.LANGTRY (Riverina) [8.31].- I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to the Government’s wheat stabilization scheme, and its proposals for fodder conservation. A set of amended regulations has been brought down which confer dictatorial powers upon the officials administering the scheme. It is obvious that the Minister responsible for the regulations knows nothing whatever about hay. The wheat stabilization scheme has been a failure from its inception. Within the last fortnight, farmers from my own district have received licences to grow wheat for the present season, when every one knows that wheat crops should be 2 feet high by now. During the past week, a meeting of 250 farmers in my own town carried a resolution unanimously condemning this scheme. Here is one of the regulations recently issued - (ab) that of the acreage so sown with wheat the wheat-grower shall, before the ear develops beyond the milky stage, cut for hay such of the crop, if any, as the board determines; and . . .
Does the Minister forCommerce (Sir Earle Page) realize the volume of labour necessary to cut and store hay? I have had a lifetime of experience of this work.
On the one hand it takes three men following an8-ft. binder to stook the hay, and from the time the binder is put into the paddock until the hay is finally stacked, labour must be employed. On the other hand, it is possible to harvest a great deal of grain with very little labour. One man with a header can harvest 300 acres, if compelled to do so, provided the sewing of the bags is left until later. If the Minister for Commerce had devoted more attention to water conservation in the past there would have been no need to introduce these absurd regulations now. The great need is to provide water so that farmers may grow fodder on their own properties. The Minister is asking men to cut bay in the milky stage, but those who know anything of the subject realize that this cannot be done unless the crop is a thick one. The Minister may know a great deal about banana-growing or cattle-raising, but he knows nothing about hay. Before I entered Parliament, I was under the impression that the Country party did not work in the interests of country people, but now I am definitely certain that it does not do so. The sons and brothers of many Australian farmers are overseas fighting for freedom; yet it would be impossible for Hitler or Mussolini to frame regulations more dictatorial than those which the Minister for Commerce seeks to impose upon the farming community. There is no need to go outside this Parliament in order to find dictatorships to fight. I listened to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) pleading with the Government for assistance for the primary producers, but, in my opinion, his pleading is in vain. The party now in power has had ten years in which to right the wrongs of the men on the land, yet the position of those men is worse to-day than it has ever been. The Government did nothing in peace-time to help them; now, in wartime, it brings down a regulation which is an absolute disgrace to the man responsible for it.
Reference has been made here to-day to the re-sale of our wool overseas. Why, I ask, are not the wool-growers of Australia entitled to all the profit made from reselling, instead of only half of it ? Who is more entitled to the profit on the sale of any commodity than those who pro duce it? I do not blame the Government for the agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom. It may have been the best arrangement that could have been made at the time, but it should be revised in order to provide that the whole of the profit derived from the resale of wool shall go to the growers. It is they who raise the wool, and pay all the charges associated with its production, including high interest on their mortgages - and the Government will not help them even to the extent of establishing a mortgage bank. I have been told that some of our wool has been sold at 3s., and as much as 4s. per lb. I do not know whether that is true. I have sought information from the Government, but have been unable to get it, although it is of the greatest importance to me and to the people whom I represent.
Residents of country districts have been more inconvenienced by the petrol rationing regulations than any other section of the community. Families living 15 to 20 miles away from the nearest town cannot get to a doctor because they have not sufficient petrol with which to run their cars, and they have no way of getting to town except by motor car. Very few of them have good sulky horses which, indeed, are very hard to get. The petrol rationing regulations should be revised with a view to giving a better deal to people living in the country.
Frequent references are made to the need for decentralization of industry and population, but what chance is there of achieving this when every piece of legislation passed through this House is designed to benefit monopolies and city interests ? People are being driven from the land instead of being encouraged to go on it. During the recent election campaign in New South Wales, it was shown that, in the last eight years, 4,500 farmers had gone off, or were put off, their holdings, and only 200 took their places, leaving a net loss of 4,300. The fact is that the farmers are unable to make a living under present conditions, yet without primary production Australia could not carry on. There is no inducement for people to stay on the land. The country towns are like morgues at the present time; the people are drifting away to the larger towns and to the cities, and we cannot expect any improvement of the position while the present Government remains in office.
The establishment of distilleries for the production of power alcohol is a matter of the greatest importance. When I questioned the Minister for Commerce on this subject he side-stepped the issue as I expected him to, but I saw him later by appointment in his own rooms. I produced evidence to show what a great benefit the industry would be, both during the war and afterwards, but the Minister replied that we could not expect to continue manufacturing our own power alcohol when the war was over. When I asked the reason for that, the Minister replied that the Government could not afford to lose from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 in customs duty on imported petrol. Therefore, the Government is penalizing the wheatgrowers and country people generally to the amount of from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, which should be spread over the whole of the people of Australia. It is the duty of the Government to give to the farmer a fair price for his product when it can be used in Australia. We are told definitely that the production of power alcohol from wheat will not be a commercial proposition after the war, so we know what to expect from the new order that has been promised to the man on the land. We hear very little about this new order nowadays; it is almost a thing of the past. I am afraid that the man on the land will not experience improved conditions until a new Government has taken charge of the affairs of this nation. The financial monopoly still rules this country. The United Australia party always stands for the big financial interests, and the Country party has cooperated with that party in order to keep anti-Labour governments in power for the last ten years, while the man on the land has been crucified.
The international situation has developed into a fight on two fronts. I have never doubted that Britain and its Allies will win the war, but I am particularly convinced of that now that Russia has come to our aid. We have to thank Russia for a great deal, and, in my opinion, we also have to thank the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, for having sent Sir Stafford Cripps to Moscow as Great Britain’s representa- tive there. The appointment improved our chance of Russia being induced to come to our side. When the war is won, however, we shall still have to fight the financial monopoly which will keep Australia down and out until it is defeated. The only way in which to judge anything is by results, and the results of the present financial system have been tragic. Abraham Lincoln, the greatest democrat the world has produced, once said that he could defeat the army that confronted him, but the most difficult adversary with which he had to contend was the financial interests that were attacking him from behind. Many people in Australia realize that while our troops are fighting overseas we must do battle at home with the big financial interests. Our only hope for a new order in Australia lies in public finance by means of the full use of national credit. Interest-free and debtfree money could be obtained through the Commonwealth Bank. I have been endeavouring without success to ascertain how much money has been advanced to the Government by the Commonwealth Bank. A paragraph appeared in the Sydney Sun a few weeks ago to the effect that the Bank of New South Wales had lent £1,000,000 to the Commonwealth, making its total contribution to Commonwealth loans £4,500,000. If that bank can advance such a large sum to the Commonwealth, why cannot the Commonwealth Bank advance money to the Government free of interest ? It has been proved beyond doubt by members of ths House that that could be done, and I desire to know why it has not been done. The only possible explanation is that the Government is more interested in the financial institutions than in the welfare of the people of Australia. If money could be obtained free of interest to finance our war commitments, why should we borrow any money from the private banks? I do not believe that such a thing as inflation can arise until such time as poverty has been abolished and every man, woman and child are living in security and comfort. But I have witnessed the effects of deflation in its worst form. I have seen starving mothers and children in this rich land of Australia, and their plight has been due to the rotten system called deflation. I am afraid that we shall witness such conditions again if the people of this country do not use their vote in their own interests, and not in the interests of a privileged few. Until that is done, there can be no new order. The people must return to power the party that established the Commonwealth Bank and made full use of that institution when it was in office. If there has ever been a time in the history of Australia when the Commonwealth Bank should be used as was intended by its founders it is no%v, when the greatest war in history is being waged. Australia needs a government that is sufficiently courageous to take control of the monetary system.
I hope that the dictatorial powers that have been taken by the Government under the National Security Regulations with regard to wheat and hay will be scrapped. They certainly would be discarded if the members of the Government had any knowledge of the wheat and hay industries. It is outrageous that farmers should be forced to cut hay while the war is in progress and when every man who is physically fit should be either in the fighting services or helping to manufacture arms or munitions. Hay cannot be produced without the expenditure of much physical labour. Its production entails the hardest physical work that is done on the farm. Any other work can, if necessary, be carried out by old men, but the forking and stacking of hay can be accomplished only by men who are in excellent physical condition. If the present harsh restrictions are removed, the result will be beneficial to Australia, for the man on the land will be able to provide fodder in his own way and at his own expense in order to provide against drought. There are two or three different stages at which hay should be cut, according to the purpose for which it is required ; but the regulations provide that it shall be cut “ at the milky stage “. When it is required for sheep fodder, it should be cut very green, but it is most useful as horse fodder if cut when the grain has hardened. The time for the cutting of the hay should be left to the farmers, who understand their own business. No more dictatorial regulation has been promulgated in the history of Australia than that issued by the present Government with regard to fodder conservation.
.- There is no division among members of this House as to the ultimate result of the war. We are all agreed that we should do everything that lie3 in our power to assist in securing a victory; hut the present Government seems to be more concerned about holding on to the reins of office than putting forward a maximum war effort. A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) set out on an election campaign, which terminated at Adelaide, and the people were told that the international situation was so serious that his tour had to be cancelled. The fact of the matter, as we have since found out, was that at that period the international situation was easier than it had been for some months, but the Government was prepared to resort to the expedient of creating panic among the public in order to achieve a party political advantage. Several parliamentary joint committees have been established to investigate such matters as war expenditure and other subjects. I happen to <be a member of one of those committees, and up to the present, it has not held many meetings; but I am astonished at the evidence already given before the committee, particularly by the heads of government departments. It appears to be almost impossible to obtain the desired information. When officials were asked for particulars regarding certain matters, except in a few instances, they suggested to the committee that it should apply to other departments for it. As to whether the committees will be as successful as some people expect, I am not very sanguine.
If the Parliamentary Joint Committee on War Expenditure should ever meet again, a most important matter will come before it; but events may travel so fast within the next few days as to deprive me of an opportunity to speak again from this side of the House.
– The honorable member may have a better opportunity to do so.
– I expect to occupy one of the opposite benches as a supporter of a Labour Government. On the 22nd November, 1940, notices appeared in the press calling for tenders for 20,400 flame floats for aircraft navigation. E. J. Kerr and Company, ofSydney, submitted a tender amounting to £53,550, or £2 12s. 6d. net for each float. Hearing no more about the matter, the firm, early in February, communicated with the Department of Supply and Development in an endeavour to ascertain what had happened. On the 13th February, the department replied that, as the firm had withdrawn its tender, the contract had been placed with T. J. Richards and Sons Limited, of Adelaide, on a cost-plus basis. I am informed that the tender originally submitted by T. J. Richards and Sons Limited was for £73,550, or £311s. for each float. In a letter to me, Kerr and Company declared that it never withdrew its tender. When it made representations to that effect, the department replied that the statement about the withdrawal of the tender was a mistake, and that the tender had not been accepted because it carried a condition relating to the availability of material. If material was available to T. J. Richards and Sons Limited, it would be available to F. J. Kerr and Company. I am deeply concerned at the influence which T. J. Richards and Sons Limited wield in the Department of Supply and Development, and I shall make further investigations into the matter. I am wondering whether the firm is a subsidiary of General Motors-Holdens Limited ; perhaps some honorable member from South Australia can enlighten me about that. My curiosity is prompted by the knowledge that Mr. Hartnett, a member of the board of management of the Department of Supply and Development, was associated with General MotorsHoldens Limited. I shall be most interested to learn the ultimate price that will be paid for the floats on the cost-plus basis.
Referring to the cost-plus system in the manufacture of munitions, a departmental head informed me that he would not touch it, and that an army of accountants would be required to calculate the cost of an article. I agree with his opinion. Undoubtedly, many manufacturers are making a fine harvest out of the supply of munitions to the Government and the position cannot be remedied until the Labour party assumes office. I confidently predict that when that happens the guilty parties will not be able to retain the loot which they received from war contracts.
– We shall make them disgorge it.
– I am satisfied that the public is being fleeced. Although the Government might not heed the recommendations of the various committees, the inquiries will make the munitions manufacturers more careful in future regarding their costs.
Recently, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) advocated that the Government should assume control of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and its subsidiaries, so that Australia could put every ounce into its war effort. Whilst agreeing with that view, I consider that it falls short of perfection. In addition to controlling Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, this Government should take charge of the associated banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions, which have franchises from the Government to make money, which they lend to the nation at high rates of interest. Until such institutions are nationalized, we cannot achieve our maximum war effort.
On more than one occasion, Ihave protested against the unfortunate treatment which has been meted out to returned soldiers and their dependants. This lack of consideration has a definite bearing on the defence of the country. . 1 am not satisfied with the remuneration that the troops receive. If a man is prepared to don a uniform and, if necessary, sacrifice his life for his country, he and his dependants should be guaranteed economic security. According to reports, some supporters of the Government have declared themselves in favour of increasing military pay, but others are opposed to it. If the Labour party governed the country, adequate remuneration would be assured to the members of the fighting services and their dependants. At present, an army of recruiting agents is appealing to men to enlist in the fighting services. If my calculations be approximately correct, each recruit costs the country between £300 and £400. That is exorbitant. Many men are afraid to enlist, lest their dependants are not adequately provided for, and their fears are not without foundation. The little remuneration which was granted to the dependants of troops who were killed in Greece and Crete is no inducement to others to risk their lives. For instance, a man who, in civil life, had an income of £1,000 a year, enlisted and attained the rank of lieutenant. When he was killed in Crete, his widow was granted a pension of £3 lis. 6d. a fortnight. As the result, she is deprived of the ordinary comforts of life and is reduced to a condition of poverty. Is that an inducement to others to enlist? I instance the case of a young fellow named Francis Gilmour, who formerly lived in my electorate. He joined the Australian Imperial Force, and, unfortunately, was killed. His mother, who had been dependent on his earnings, applied for a pension, but it was refused on the ground that £3 Ss. came into the home each week. That amount represented the earnings of her two daughters. That is not- the way to treat a mother whose son was killed fighting for his country. Not only is there inadequate provision for the dependants of men who are killed in the country’s service; there is also no recognition of the disabilities suffered by many of the men who are called up for compulsory military training. A young married man, 25 or 26 years of age, may, when he goes into camp, leave behind a young wife who is possibly an expectant mother. She is expected to maintain the home on a weekly allowance of £2 2s. Because of the increased cost of living, these allowances generally should be reviewed. In considering war pensions, the Government should have regard not only to cases arising out of the present war, but also to those which have resulted from the last war. When the Parliament first decided to provide invalid and old-age pensions the cost of living in Australia was very much lower than it is to-day, and, therefore, I submit that the pension should be raised to 30s. or £2 a week. Although this House decided some time ago on a motion by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that the permissible income of pensioners should be increased to £2 10s. a week, that decision has not- been given effect by the Government.
Some of the men who have returned from active service overseas suffering from the effects of their war experiences are not recognized by the Repatriation Department, notwithstanding that, at the time of their enlistment, they were medically examined and found free from defects. The department now disclaims any responsibility in respect of them, on the ground that their disabilities are not the result of war service. I have in mind a case of a young fellow in my electorate who was only nineteen years of age when he went to Libya. I believe that he was at Bardia when the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) “ took “ that place. The young fellow was invalided home to Australia, where he remained in hospital for some time. On his discharge from hospital, he was desirous of returning to active service, but the military authorities said that he was not fit to do so. He then applied to -be given employment in home defence and went before the medical board with that end. in view, but again he was rejected. Subsequently, he applied for a pension, but his application was refused on the ground that his state of health did not justify it. Thereupon, he applied for work under the Repatriation Department, and although he was supposed not to be fit to rejoin the Australian Imperial Force or to undertake home-service duties, lie. was employed carrying bags of sugar. When I became acquainted with the circumstances of his case, I took the matter up with the department, and eventually he was given lighter work. Similar treatment has been accorded to other young fellows who have returned from the war. Ever since I have been a member of this House, I have advocated an amendment of the Repatriation Act in order to give a greater measure of justice to men who have rendered service to their country in its fighting forces. T do not blame the officers of the Repatriation Department; I know them, and I know that they are doing a good job. The trouble is that, under the Repatriation Act, it is impossible for them to recognize many of the disabilities from which men suffer.
Several honorable members have referred to petrol rationing. If the Government deserves censure for any of its administrative failings, it is in connexion with its failure to ensure adequate supplies of petrol in this country. Unfortunately, it has allowed the country’s stocks of petrol to get so low that I doubt whether there would be sufficient petrol in Australia to resist an invader for more than a few weeks. The acute shortage of petrol and the consequent rationing of supplies has been especially hard on those people whose living depends on motor transport. When the Government comes before its masters, the people, it will he condemned for its handling of our essential liquid fuel supply.
Notwithstanding that expenditure totalling many millions of pounds has been incurred in establishing a national capital, the Government continues to transfer departments to the capital cities of the States. .Not content with holding meetings of the Cabinet and of the War Cabinet away from Canberra, the Government is transferring a considerable number of departmental officers to the State capitals. The result is that many persons who have leased government property in Canberra are in financial straits. In the circumstances, the rentals charged to lessees should be reviewed. I hope that the time will soon come when every Commonwealth department will be located in Canberra. As Parliament has decided to establish the national capital at Canberra, I cannot understand why the Government does not go ahead and make this city in fact the administrative centre of the Commonwealth. No other capital city in the world has Canberra’s advantages. The land here was acquired for the nominal sum of about £4 10s. an acre. Thousands of homes could be built in Canberra profitably for public servants and other people who would be willing to earn their livelihood in the Australian Capital Territory.
I doubt whether the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will be in office for very long, but I enjoin him to give consideration to what I have said, particularly to my plea that the “ cost-plus “ munitions contractors be compelled to disgorge some of their ill-gotten gains in order that the soldiers might be more adequately rewarded for their services.
.- I intend to raise certain matters which should command the early attention of the Government. The first is the loan of £10,000 by the Commonwealth Government to Mount Morgan Limited to enable it to carry out certain work at the Mount Chalmers mine. 1 heard the story of this venture as it affects the Mount Chalmers Company and Mount Morgan Limited, which, by some mysterious process, has within the last two or three weeks become possessed of the lease of the Mount Chalmers mine. I was amazed within a fortnight of hearing it to read in the press that the Commonwealth Government had granted £10,000 towards the venture. I was more deeply amazed, because I knew that Mount Chalmers Company had been given permission to go on the market in order to raise £5,000, but could not raise that sum. On the 21st August, I asked a series of questions of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden). I received his reply only to-day; so I am raising this matter at the first opportunity. I asked -
I received the following answers: -
I am afraid that there will he no assets from which to recover the £10,000. I think that that opinion was shared by the investing public which refused to invest £5,000 in the proposition.
The Mount Chalmers mine was closed down in 1914 when the first European war was being waged and when copper was returning handsome profits. The miners were then only at the 350-ft. level. Not even the man now promoting the venture, the managing director of Mount Morgan Limited, Mr. Garrick, was able or willing under two hours of crossexamination to tell the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee what the gold or copper content of the ore was when the mine was closed down. It will be readily realized that a man who for many years has been a leading mining executive in Queensland could state at a moment’s notice the approximate gold or copper content of the ore in any mine in Queensland. Yet the man who could not give us that information was able to convince the Commonwealth Government that it ought to risk £10,000 in the venture. There is no plant at the mine, although there is a disused plant at another abandoned mine at Gympie which the promoters say is admirably suited for the Mount Chalmers mine. It is estimated by the promoters that it will cost £30,000 to de-water the mine and put it in working order. Even that is speculation, however, because one can well imagine that the underground structure of a mine which has been idle and waterlogged for 27 years would be in a rotten state of repair or entirely collapsed. I say to the Treasurer, who will, as is his right, defend his action, that the people who are so confident that they can work the mine ought to be prepared to expend their own money on the venture.
When the managing director of Mount Chalmers Limited was asked whether the Copper and Bauxite Committee had investigated the Mount Chalmers proposition he said -
The Copper and Bauxite Committee sent its advisory engineer to Mount Morgan . . . He incidentally met us and discussed our proposition. We made application for finance
In respect of the plant in addition to the de-watering and installation operations, a total sum of £30,000.
I do not know even now whether the Copper and Bauxite Committee reported favorably on the project, but it is proof that it did not take its job seriously when it sent its expert to make inquiries miles away from the site of the mine. I should like the Treasurer to give to the House a detailed statement of the committee’s recommendations on this matter. On such a cursory examination as was made of the proposition, it is remarkable that the Government should recommend the expenditure of £10,000 of public money on a mining venture in which the investing public refused to invest even £5,000. I emphasize the difference of £20,000 between the two estimates of the cost of de-watering the mine. It is also strange that when the Mount Chalmers Company was trying to raise £5,000 on the open market, Mount Morgan Limited was endeavouring to borrow £110,000 from the Commonwealth Government in order to erect a refinery at the Mount Morgan mine. There has been juggling somewhere, because all of these things happened within a fortnight. On the 2nd August, the promoter of the Mount Chalmers proposition asked the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee to report favorably to the Government in respect of its request for an advance of £30,000 to enable it to undertake this scheme ; and within sixteen days at the most, the controlling agency passed from a body of speculators to the Mount Morgan company. Meanwhile, the Copper and Bauxite Committee had made a report, and the Commonwealth has advanced £10,000 as a loan, to be repaid out of the assets, if any, of the Mount Chalmers company. The Commonwealth is taking all the risk, and in reality is making a gift to these people, who were shunned by those who have some knowledge of mining in Queensland. There might be a perfectly good explanation; but the Treasurer will have to be convincing if I am to believe that it is not a case of big business receiving a gift and taking no risk.
In the matter of technical training, the Government has to get down to tin-tacks. The programme of munitions manufacture is rapidly expanding in every .State.
It can be expanded to the degree that will enable this country to make the best war effort only if men are trained to work the machines that are used in war industries. The demand has grown for the training of men, not only for industry, but also for the Air Force and other defence services. Yet the Government, instead of expanding the facilities for training in technical colleges, has actually allowed the Machine Tools Directorate to take machines from some of the colleges! The Man-power Resources and Survey Committee has seriously stressed the necessity to expand the technical training system if men are to be trained for munitions production and the defence services. After the committee had made its second report to the Government, the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) was appointed to take charge of technical training, and his first statement was one of the most stupid that even a junior Minister could make. He said that he was going to dot the country, where vacant blocks of land could be obtained, with 70 technical colleges; yet, since he has been in charge of technical training, the number of colleges in one State alone has been reduced by two ! The management of the technical colleges in every State is highly efficient. So efficient is it that when the Machine Tools Directorate removed first-class machines from certain colleges, the instructors had the students build new machines to replace them; and so soon as this was done, those machines also were taken. Evidently, there was a determination to keep the colleges down to the minimum of their requirements. In these circumstances, the Government has been faced with” the necessity to reduce an already too short period of training. Men who were to go into industry were given training extending over a period of five or six months ; and to-day, because of the large number that has to be trained, the time has had to be reduced by one-half, with the result that men are only partially equipped for the work that they have to perform. Unless the Government overrules the rajahs who have been given control of different departments, apparently nothing will be done to correct the position, and it is more than likely that there will be a reduction rather than an expansion of the number of machine tools available to the technical colleges of the Commonwealth.
The complaint is heard from one end of Australia to the other, from persons who are ready and anxious to take part in the war effort, that the Machine Tools Directorate is under-manned. Business men, wherever they may be, have to visitMelbourne in order to interview the heads with a view to difficulties being righted. Correspondence remains unanswered for months, and matters cannot be settled by such means. A man in Queensland, who has tried to play a big part in the war effort despite these adverse circumstances, claims that the best part of the profit he has made from the manufacture of munitions has been absorbed in expenses incidental to trips to Melbourne, telegrams, and the like, in an endeavour to settle difficulties with this particular directorate. Those who are doing their best to provide Australia with the munitions that it needs, should be encouraged by receiving better treatment from the departments. The ministerial head should make a complete overhaul of the Machine. Tools Directorate at the earliest opportunity, in order to determine whether what is being done is best for the country or for the monopolistic interests which the Directorate of Machine Tools represents in civil life.
I agree entirely with the criticism of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley). Those taking part in the war effort are discouraged by the lack of attention given to payment for the services that they render. From one end of Australia to the other I have heard complaints of the inordinate delays that occur in respect of the settlement of claims against the Commonwealth for work that has been done. This affects more particularly the business man in a small way who is a sub-contractor to a larger concern. Contracts for the supply of many of the commodities required for defence purposes are given to major contractors. They farm out the work to a number of small contractors, who have to wait for their money till the major contractor has been paid. There has been a certain degree of improvement, but there is still room for much more. I had brought to my notice the cases of men who had devoted the whole of their factories to defence -work, and were required to furnish a bond with each contract. These bonds were guaranteed by banking institutions, and, in some instances, were not released for as long as nine months after the completion of the contract, during, which period the contractors had to pay interest on them. The bonds should have been released immediately the Commonwealth was satisfied that the right goods have been received and paid for. It is idle for the Government to talk about a maximum war effort when, by such means, it is preventing people from doing their best and is discouraging them at every turn because of unwillingness to discharge its obligations. Control must be decentralized from Melbourne before there will be a major war effort throughout the Commonwealth. Red tape, amounting to sheer stupidity, abounds between those who desire to contract with government departments and the controllers of the contracts in Melbourne. There is an Area Board of Management in each State, supposedly to look after munitions production, but until quite recently the management was a name rather than an actuality. Even now there is not the degree of authority needed for the settlement of matters within a State, negotiations in respect of which would otherwise have to go to Melbourne from all parts of the Commonwealth.
The Contracts Department has been subjected to scathing criticism by His Honour, Mr. Justice Maxwell, in connexion with the Abbco bread scandal. That department is supposed to send out inspectors in order to satisfy itself that a tenderer has sufficient plant to discharge a contract. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) has referred to a classic case to-night. The committee of of which I am a member discovered that, in. the early stages of the war, huge contracts for clothing were let to persons who had not a factory and were financed by a money-lender in Melbourne, who levied a toll of ls. a garment. The Abbco bread scandal might never have occurred, but for the laxity of this particular department; because His Honour, Mr. Justice Maxwell, said in no unmistakable terms that it had not discharged its duty by seeing that the prospective contractor was a fit and proper person and had the neces sary equipment to carry out the contract. I hope that the Government will see that there is proper inspection of premises before contracts are let.
The honorable member for Lang referred to the obligation which rests on the Government to give effect to a decision of this House, made some time ago, that the amount of permissible income which pensioners should be allowed to earn without suffering a deduction of their pension should be increased from 30s. to 50s. The Government could well afford to give effect to that decision, for the amount involved would not be very great. As honorable members know, the pension is always chasing the cost of living. Living costs increase rapidly, but pension rates increase slowly. The fact that the present rate of 30s. a unit of permissible income was fixed as far back as 1931 is a further justification for the increase to 50s. that this House approved. It is particularly necessary that persons who have to maintain invalid children over the age of sixteen years shall be given additional consideration.
In conclusion, I urge upon the Treasurer the necessity to make a clear statement on the situation in relation to the Mount Chalmers Company.
– in reply - It is obviously impossible for me to reply to all the points raised by honorable members during this important debate, but I must comment upon certain of the speeches that have been delivered.
Despite protestations from my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Collins), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) persisted in referring to a press report that I had strenuously opposed a proposal for an increase of service pay, and that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) and I were at loggerheads over the matter. I assure the House, and also the people of Australia, that this subject did not come before me until quite recently. The first information I had of the proposal was obtained from the press. I cannot do better, perhaps, than refer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) but also appeared in the journal he quoted, emphatically denying that there had been any difference of opinion on the matter, and also denying the allegation that had been laid at my door.
I now turn to the speech of the honorable member forWatson (Mr. Falstein) who referred to a recent decision of the Australian Loan Council relative to the amount of money provided for Commonwealth and State public works in the next financial year. The honorable gentleman accused me of having induced the Premier of Tasmania (Mr. Cosgrove) to take certain action with the object of reducing the amount of loan money available for the States and particularly for New SouthWales. I cannot understand how the honorable member could have made such a charge against Mr. Cosgrove who is a member of the Australian Labour party. On behalf of Mr. Cosgrove, I emphatically deny the allegation.
– Mr. Cosgrove has also indignantly denied it.
– The honorable member stated that in order to obtain Mr. Cosgrove’s support at the Loan Council meeting, I gave him the right to nominate the new chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in order that he could be sure that a gentleman would be appointed who would favour the giving of a liberal Commonwealth grant to Tasmania. The fact is that the new chairman of theCommonwealth Grants Commission has not yet been appointed, nor has the name of any suggested appointee come to my notice. Naturally, I have discussed the subject with the States concerned, and have asked them to nominate a suitable person to fill the vacancy. It is due to Mr. Cosgrove that I should make this statement. Mr. Cosgrove took the action at the Loan Council which he considered to be best in the interests of Australia.
The method of voting at the Loan Council is too well known to need description by me in this House. The honorable member forWatson, who is a legal man, should know how the Loan Council is constituted. He should also know that the manner of voting of every person at the table has been embodied in the Constitution. That Constitution was drafted a good many years ago, following upon conferences and agreements by the States and the Commonwealth.
– The council reduced the allocation for New South “Wales which was recommended by Sir Harry Brown.
– The council reduced the figures in accordance with what it considered to be the amount of loan money available. Sir Harry Brown makes recommendations, but he does not have to find the money.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) referred to delays in the settlement of accounts by the Commonwealth Government. The subject had been brought to my notice previously, and in consequence of the unsatisfactory state of affairs that was revealed by my inquiries, I caused a circular to be sent to all Ministers, directing their attention to steps that should be taken to ensure the prompt consideration and expeditious settlement of accounts. I also asked each Minister to furnish me with a schedule of all overdue accounts in order that I might deal with the matter without delay. I am pleased that the honorable member for Macquarie brought the subject to my notice again.
– Did the Treasurer’s instruction cover all amounts that were owing ?
I refer now to the statements of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) concerning the copper and bauxite resources in Australia, and the position of the Mount Chalmers Company. My association with this matter has been in my capacity as Treasurer. I did not make any investigations or recommendations on the proposition. That duty devolved upon, and was performed by, the special committee set up for such purposes, the personnel of which includes the Commonwealth Government Geologist. The committee made investigations throughout Australia, having in mind the urgent necessity to stepup our production of copper, supplies of which are gravely short at present. Following upon the committee’s recommendation, an amount of £10,000 was made available to Mount Morgan Limited, not to the Mount Chalmers Company.
Moreover, the amount was advanced as a loan, and was conditional upon Mount Morgan Limited observing certain stipulations, the details of which I shall not enlarge upon at the moment. Mount Morgan Limited is an entirely separate company from the Mount Chalmers Company. As the Mount Chalmers Company was not able to obtain from the share market the capital it required, it could not successfully work the Mount Chalmers mine which is known to contain important lodes of copper and gold. Mount Morgan Limited has undertaken the de-watering and rehabilitation of the Mount Chalmers mine. Obviously that work is not being done for nothing. It is getting 17,000 shares in the Mount Chalmers Company. So far as the encouragement of mining is concerned, the Commonwealth Government’s policy is well known. Under the Commonwealth’s mining scheme £600,000 was made available to assist mining throughout Australia. The administration of this scheme was left to the State mines departments, which act in collaboration with the Commonwealth sub-treasury accountants in the various States. The States have the machinery for policing advances to mining companies, and it is considered that, if funds are made available to Mount Morgan Limited for the development of the Mount Chalmers mine, such money should be made available through the Queensland Government. Listening to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), one would think that the Commonwealth Government was just throwing £10,000 away. Actually the Commonwealth is lending that money to a company which has assets and has the capacity to repay it. It is not a gift. Surely it is worth £10,000 to the Commonwealth Government to step-up copper production in Australia, particularly when the development is in a State which is not getting its share of defence work. The plain fact is that the recommendation was made toy a committee which was specially constituted to develop the copper resources of Australia in order to meet war-time demands.
– The committee never went to Mount Chalmers.
– I do not know whether it did or did not. Surely it is not my responsibility to ensure that committees carry out inspections, or that their reports are based on sound data. Surely I can rely on the report of a body comprising men who undoubtedly know their business, and if that body recommends a certain course, and I in my wisdom consider that that course is sound and -businesslike, I, as Treasurer, can give my approval to it. That is what I did in this instance. To me the proposition is a good one. I recognize, of course, that the money will be expended in Queensland north of the Tweed and not in the electorate of the honorable member for Dalley. The matter was further investigated, hut I do not intend to go into details as the file is available to honorable members. A recommendation from the Department of Supply and Development, that the Copper and Bauxite Committee’s report be adopted came before me in my capacity as Treasurer. It was recommended that the Copper and Bauxite Committee be instructed to confine its attention to copper which could be produced within the present economic range, and within the next two or, at the most, three years, that an amount of up to £10,000 be made available to be administered by the Queensland Government on behalf of the Commonwealth for the purpose of dewatering and testing the Mount Chalmers mine, and that such moneys arc to be repaid.
– Is the Mount Chalmers mine the only one for which assistance has been recommended?
– That is the only one with which we are dealing at present. If the Copper and Bauxite Committee is incompetent, and has not done its job properly, it can be disbanded. Until definite evidence can be produced to show that the members of the committee do not know their job and have not made a conscientious and sound recommendation to me as Treasurer, I shall continue to accept their advice.
The matter .of pensions and other allowances are matters of policy which will be taken into consideration when the budget is being considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Nauru - Report to Council of League of Nations on Administration of Nauru during 1940.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - C. H. Tuckfield.
Commerce - W. M. Carne.
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 20th
August, 1941) prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Antiques; Fur skins, dressed and goods manufactured from fur skins; Jewellery; Pearls; Platinum; Postage stamps; Precious and semi-precious stones; Watches with cases of precious metal ; Worksof art.
Defence Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1941, No. 205.
National Security Act -
Butter and Cheese Acquisition Regulations - Order - Acquisition.
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of Boot Manufacture.
Control of Flax.
Control of Screw Wire.
Munitions Establishments (Search).
Taking possession of land, &c. (83).
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Order - Liquid Fuel (Stocks of Motor Spirit and Drums).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 189, 192, 193, 196, 197, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 206.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1941 -
No. 11 - Aboriginals.
No. 12 - Dangerous Drugs.
Regulations - 1 94 1 -
No. 7 (Marine Ordinance).
No. 8 (Public Service Ordinance).
House adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What compensation was paid during or after the 1914-18 war in respect of each colliery in New South Wales taken over by the Commonwealth Government?
– No collieries were taken over by the Commonwealth during or after the 1914-18 war, although coal was compulsorily acquired by the Commonwealth for some time in 1919.
Department of the Interior: Purchase of Land in Metropolitan Areas.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
What was the amount of petrol consumed in each State by (a) the military, (b) the Royal Australian Air Force, and (c) other consumers, prior to the commencement of rationing, and what is the amount being allowed now in each State for these same consumers ?
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answer: -
Statistics of petrol consumption by States cannot be compiled with any accuracy. Prerationing consumption was approximately 30,000,000 gallons a month by all consumers, and of this the amount consumed by the military and the Royal Australian Air Force was a very small proportion. This figure does not include the consumption of aviation spirit by the Air Force. In view of the recent drastic reductions in allowances of various classes, and the number of appeals being dealt with by the State Liquid Fuel Control Boards, the statistics of licensed gallonage in each State are not yet available.
Post Offices : Elizabeth-street, Melbourne; Port Lincoln.
l asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
Government Departments: Transfers from Canberra.
s. - On the 21st August the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions upon notice : -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
Department of Commerce.
Department of Trade and Customs.
The question of transferring certain of the staff of the Department of Trade and Customs to Sydney in connexion with “ Lease-Lend” arrangements with the United States of America is at present under consideration. Pending a decision on the general question of transfer, consideration will not be given to matters relating to personnel.
Profits in the Coal-mining Industry.
s. - On the 21st August the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) asked a question, without notice, relating to the basis on which the margin of profit to be allowed to coalmine owners will be calculated.
I refer the honorable member to section 22 (1) of the National Security (Coal Control) Regulations, which provides as follows : -
s. - On the 21st August the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked, without notice, whether the file relating to the purchase of canned meat for the Army and Navy would be tabled.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply: -
There is a large number of files covering the purchase of tinned meat for the Army and Navy, but it is not clear to which particular matter the honorable member wishes to refer. It is assumed, however, that the honorable member refers to the hot cure versus the cold cure process and the higher prices paid for the latter. The honorable member has been advised of the position concerning this matter in correspondence, and no good purpose would be served by laying the large number of files concerned on the table of the House.
Manufacture of Military Tanks.
r. - Onthe 21st August the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) asked the Prime Minister if he was aware that an authorized investigating body had recommended to the Government that certain State engineering establishments were available and should be used for the manufacture of military tanks. If so, would he inform the House whether definite steps had been taken to commence tank manufacture. If no steps had been taken, would he give any reason for the delay and would he ensure that the work was undertaken immediately.
I now inform the honorable member that the Minister for Munitions has furnished the following reply : -
Full use will be made of whatever establishments or manufacturing facilities are procurable to manufacture tanks, whether or not they are Government controlled. Discussions on this matter have taken place between the New South Wales Government authorities and the Munitions Board of Area Management authorities. Everything possible is being done to commence the manufacture of tanks, but there are many complex problems which must be overcome. This has been equally experienced in the United States of America where great difficulty has been encountered, notwithstanding the enormous resources of that country.
n. - On the 21st August the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Price of Tea.
s. - On Thursday last the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the Prime Minister whether there was any reason for the increase of 2d. a lb. in the price of tea which was announced on that day.
The principal cause of the increase is the rise of overseas prices, but even if these had remained at the pre-war level the increase of overseas freight, war risk insurance and exchange would have been responsible for some increase of costs and prices in Australia. The price of tea in Australia after rising to 5d. per lb. above pre-war level in January, 1940, was gradually reduced until in July of that year the excess was only1d. per lb. Since then there has been a succession of increases and the price now is11d. per lb. above the pre-war level. Large purchases by the British Government, greatly increased purchases by the United States of America and new and substantial inquiries by Russia have had the effect of reducing the quantity available to other countries and of creating a sellers’ market. The International Tea Committee in response to strong representations on behalf of the Commonwealth Government has twice increased the export quota which now stands at 100 per cent. In spite of this the price has continued to increase, due no doubt to buying pressure from countries which are endeavouring to build up stocks in case supplies should be stopped by the extension of hostilities to the tea-producing countries. The price of tea in Australia is under close supervision and while the retail price of popular brands is to-day round about 3s. 2d. to 3s. 4d. per lb., the price of similar tea in New Zealand is, I understand, from 4s. to 4s. 4d. per lb.
– On the 21st August the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) asked whether the Minister for Supply would send an officer of the Copper and Bauxite Committee to inspect copper deposits formerly worked in the area of New South Wales west of Orange, and also to report on the bauxite deposits known to exist in the Trundle district.
I now inform the honorable member that the Minister for Munitions has furnished the following reply : -
The Copper and Bauxite Committee is investigating all the known and probable resources of copper and bauxite, and the honorable member may rest assured that these districts will be given full consideration.
l asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
Division. Their remuneration is not calculated by the addition of a margin to the basic wage. At the two dates the relevant salary ranges were: - (a) 31st December, 1929, £302-£314 per annum; (b) 30th July, 1941, £314-£326 per annum. The increase is accounted for by the readjustment consequent upon the abolition of the Commonwealth Public Service Child Endowment Schemeas from 7th July, 1941.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410827_reps_16_168/>.