16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Honorable members will have learned of the air crash in northern Queensland yesterday, which unfortunately resulted in the loss of three lives - those of Mr. Charles Hardy, a former member of the Senate, who was recently engaged on Commonwealth defence work; Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, Director of Works, Department of the Army; and Mr. Cohen, the pilot, of the ill-fated aircraft. Honorable members will, I feel sure, wish me to express deep sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives in this tragic occurrence.
It is appropriate that I make special reference to the death of Mr. Hardy, who was very well known to many members of this House. The late gentleman served as a senator from 1932 to 1938, and was Leader of the Country party in that chamber from October, 1935, to June, 1938.
Mr. Hardy saw active service during the last war. His enlistment soon after he had reached his eighteenth year was typical of the enthusiasm that he subsequently displayed in his public life.
It will be remembered that the late Mr. Hardy founded, in 1931, the Riverina . Movement, the object of which was the recognition of that area as a new State. It was at the general elections held during the latter part of that year that he was elected to the Senate.
Charles Hardy was an able, energetic and patriotic man, and his death at the early age of 42 years has caused a real loss to this country. He had many friends in this Parliament, and was widely respected for his sincerity and capacity for work. He gave his services to the Commonwealth in an honorary capacity in connexion with certain important aspects of defence works, and it was while travelling in the course of those official duties that he met his death. We aregrateful to him for bis valuable public work, and for the zeal that he displayed in the service of the people of this country. His death is a particularly sad blow to Mrs. Hardy and her sons. 1 move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Charles Hardy, a former member of .the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, with, I am certain that every honorable member will believe, the very deepest regret. The late Mr. Hardy served in this Parliament, and was a familiar figure to honorable members of this House. The remarks of the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) concerning his patriotism are, I believe, a just appreciation of his outlook as a man. He was imbued with the desire to be of service to Australia. He interested himself in the promotion of principles which he thought, if applied, would be of value in the political structure of this country. Although he was not re-elected to the Senate at the expiration of his first term of office, he yet found at the outbreak of war that it was impossible for him, hecause of his nature, to proceed quietly with his own affairs; consequently, he offered his services in an honorary capacity for use by the Government wherever the employment of his talents might be of value. I know that he was engaged in very important work connected with the general plan of Australian defence. With two other members of the fighting forces of this country, he yesterday met his death.
Charles Hardy worked conscientiously for Australia, and I state’ a simple truth when I say that he died in the service of Australia. That there are men of his disposition in this country makes us feel very humble, and that there are so many of them makes us also feel proud. I offer to Mrs. Hardy and her sorrowing children the deepest sympathy of every member of the Opposition - a sympathy in which, I am confident, the whole of Australia shares.
– T associate the Country party with the sentiments that have been bo fervently expressed. The tragic and untimely death of ex-Senator Charles Hardy was a severe shock to me, because he and I were personal friends. Only on Wednesday of last week I had a long conversation with him prior to his departure for north Queensland.
The late Charles Hardy served Australia with distinction, not only in the Senate but also during the Great War of 1914-1S. As he was only 42 years of age at the time of his death, it is obvious that he was a very young man during that conflict. His sole desire was to serve Australia in any capacity. After his defeat for the Senate he did not dissociate himself from the Country party movement - with which he had been, identified for the previous six years - but kept in touch with its policy and its views, and gave very valuable cooperation in respect of the rural problems of Australia. His loss is a serious one in the critical times through which we are passing. I join in conveying sympathy to Mrs. Hardy and to the two beautiful boys who have been left to mourn the loss of a fond father. He set for them an example which will sustain and guide them throughout their lives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen the press report that Canadian, troops in England “ booed “ the Canadian. Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, and protested at being kept inactive in England. Can the honorable gentleman give any reason for these troops not being employed in the Middle East?
– The employment of Canadian troops is not a matter for determination by the Australian Government.
– Is the Minister for Commerce aware that the Victorian Dairymen’s Association has asked for the appointment of producers’ representatives on the Dairy Produce Control Committee and the Priority Dairy Products Committee? Is he aware that the persons appointed to these committees are the representatives of vested interests, and not of the producers I What consideration does the Minister propose to give to the requests of the producers for representation on the committees?
– The facts are not as the honorable member stated. The Dairy Produce Control Committee consists of seven gentlemen, three of whom are actual producers, though two of them are also directly representative of cooperative factories, of which they are chairmen. They are amongst the biggest dairymen in Australia. Until the death of Mr. Angus McKenzie, who was president of the Dairy Produce Association of Victoria, and was also a member of the Export Control Board, the producers had in him direct representation on the board. Consideration is now being given to the appointment of a further producers’ representative.
– Has the Government yet given consideration to the constitution of the Housing Trust which it proposes to appoint, and will the munitions workers be given representation on it?
– Detailed decisions have not yet been reached regarding the representation of bodies which will be asked to co-operate with the Housing Trust. The personnel of the trust itself has been decided upon; the gentlemen concerned have been approached, and have agreed to serve. Representation will be given to the States most likely to be affected by the activities of the trust, and the various State representatives on the trust will consult with local interests in their own States, including the workers themselves.
– But will the workers have direct representation?
– That matter will receive consideration.
– What action does the Government propose to take as a result of the finding of the royal commission which inquired into the Abbco bread contract, and in its report commented caustically on the conduct of Major Rigney, Lieutenant Hart, and Sergeant Benjamin?
– The report of the royal commission, which I read very carefully, did not seriously reflect on Major Rigney concerning the discharge of his duties as an officer, but said that whatever he had done reflected great efficiency. The report did, however, contain some adverse comments on the evidence which Major Rigney had given before the commission; it stated that he had given unsatisfactory evidence in an endeavour to protect his subordinates. Caustic comment was made on some portions of the evidence, and the commissioner stated that he was not wholly convinced that the state of Major Rigney’s health, which was admittedly bad at the time, could be. regarded as entirely responsible.
– The commissioner stated that Rigney had driven the other firm out of the contract.
– Yes, but stated that he was not motivated by personal considerations, but by a desire to get the best deal for the Army. The utmost that can bc said against him is that his earlier evidence was unsatisfactory; upon the circumstances of his bankruptcy the commissioner made little comment. The position of Major Rigney is different from that of the other men involved. I have given direction that they should be dealt with immediately, but I am informed that they are entitled to be tried by court-martial. My own view is that they should be dealt with without delay, and I am having further inquiries made into the position.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement made by the British High Commissioner, Sir Ronald Cross, at a function in Canberra, in the course of which he offered gratuitous advice regarding Australia’s economic policy and the conduct of the war ? Is it not time that an intimation was conveyed to overseas representatives that they should confine themselves to diplomatic work, and refrain from trying to influence the economic policy of this country?
– I have not seen a report of the statement to which the honorable member has referred, and therefore cannot offer any useful comment on it.
– Has the Minister for Commerce received any information regarding a possible shortage of tinned plate to deal with next season’s fruit crop? Will he bring the matter to the attention of the newly-appointed Tinned Plate Committee in order to ensure that sufficient plate is set aside for canning purposes during the coming season?
– This matter has been engaging the attention of the Government for many months past, and recently a committee was set up by the Department of Supply to deal with it.
– Does the Minister anticipate a shortage ?
– Has the Prime Minister received a report from the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee recommending that a dock be built at Cairns? If so, will he give the recommendation favorable consideration?
– I cannot remember such a report having been placed before me, but any report from any parliamentary committee will receive the earnest consideration of the Government.
– Has the Government considered the suggestion I made some time ago regarding the desirability of amending the regulations which provided for the setting up of District Coal Reference Boards, the purpose of the amendment being to reduce the number of appeals to the Central Reference Board regarding matters of purely local concern ?
– The matter has been considered, and some minor amendments of the regulations are now in draft, and should be completed shortly. Whilst the effect of the amendments will not be to increase the jurisdiction of the local boards, it has been decided that when matters affecting a particular district come before the Central Board from local boards, some representation on the Central Board will be granted to that district.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether he was correctly reported in the press as having said that important decisions on matters of policy were being delayed because of the unstable political situation? If so, will he state to what matters he was referring?
– What newspaper reported that?
– The local newspaper.
– Oh! If the local newspaper reported me correctly, it would be for the first time. I did not say anything about decisions being held up.
– It was in the Sydney Morning Herald also.
– Surely the honorable member does not regard the Sydney Morning Herald as one of my supporters.
– Recently, I asked the Minister for the Army to lay upon the table of the House the file dealing with the purchase of tinned meat for the Army and the Navy, and I am not satisfied with the answer. The Minister’s reply states that I have already received information about the hot-curing process and the cold-curing processes. Will the Minister now inform me what proportions of hot-cured tinned meat and cold-cured tinned meat has been purchased for the Army and the Navy?
– I regret that I am unable to give the information offhand, but I shall make inquiries and furnish an answer to the honorable member.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter, such date and hour to be not later than Wednesday, the 17th September next, at 3 p.m.
– Has the Cabinet given consideration to the acute shortage of tobacco which, in the opinion of many people, is growing more serious? Is the Government aware that several tobacconists in Sydney and Melbourne claim that they will be compelled to cease trading in cigars, cigarettes, tobacco and papers for making cigarettes if supplies are not made available very soon? Is the Government also aware that inquiries reveal that tins of cigarettes are practically unobtainable in those cities?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Supply and the Minister for Trade and Customs as it probably concerns both departments, and I shall endeavour to convey an answer to the honorable member to-day.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to the statement by Dr. F. W. Clements, Director of the Commonwealth Institute of Anatomy, that investigations in various parts of the Commonwealth disclosed that between 10 per cent, and 20 per cent, of the children were grossly under weight and that some were suffering from malnutrition? As there is an abundance of foodstuffs in Australia, what action will the Government take to deal with this serious position ?
– Yesterday, I answered a similar question by a colleague of the honorable member, but I avail myself of this opportunity to point out that the fact that Dr. Clements, who is an officer of my department, conducted the investigation and submitted the report, indicates the interest which the Government takes in the health of the people.
– Will the Government widen the scope of the Copper and Bauxite Committee, so as to enable it to investigate the possibility of using magnesite for the recovery of magnesium, this process having proved successful in America?
– So far as I am aware, the Minister for Supply indicated that, in his view, the functions of the committee are sufficient to cover the subject of the honorable member’s question ; but I shall bring the matter again to his notice for consideration.
Reports of Flow Oil - Inter-racial Feeling.
– Iask the Minister for External Territories whether the Government prosposes to investigate the reported existence of flow oil in the uncontrolled area of New Guinea? If so, when will the Minister be in a position to make a statement about the matter to the House?
– As long ago as 1911, seepages of oil were discovered in New Guinea, and in 1918 the Federal Government expended in the territory approximately £400,000 in a quest for oil. Extensive boring operations are now being undertaken. Recently I visited a district where a bore had been sunk to a depth of 3,500 feet, progress being at the rate of approximately 70 feet a day. Although many people appear to think that the Government has taken no steps to search for oil, such a view is unfounded, because considerable sums have been expended in this direction. Replying recently to a question similar to that asked by the honorable member for East Sydney, I mentioned that a certain company is seeking permission to explore the uncontrolled area. We have a special obligation to the nativesin the territory, and until the region is brought under control by the administration, white men will not be allowed to enter it. I see no reason to alter that rule.
– Has the Government formulated plans for exploring the uncontrolled area? If so, when will the exploratory work begin?
– Although I am not aware when the exploratory work will be undertaken, I know that the Administration of New Guinea is now carrying out definite plans in this regard. For instance, patrol officers who have been specially trained for the work have been appointed. Each year, they extend their influence into the uncontrolled area, and it is by that manner of peaceful penetration that the whole of the region will be explored.
– Did the Minister for External Territories see any evidence of feeling between the white residents of New Guinea and the natives while he was on his recent visit to the Territory? I understand that after the murder of a white woman by a native there has been a strong reaction against the natives.
– I know that the honorable member will not hold me responsible for the murder. As soon as the murder was reported, two detectives were sent to make investigations. One of them, Detective Arnold, is still in New
Guinea. So far no one has been arrested for the murder.
– I do not suggest that the Minister is responsible for any happening in New Guinea. I want to know whether he noticed any signs of antagonism on the part of the whites to the natives?
– In the neighbourhood where the murder occurred great feeling was naturally aroused, but generally throughout the Territory the behaviour of the natives is wonderfully good, considering the fact that a great many of them were taken from their home villages and separated from their women folk for their periods of three years as indentured labourers.
– As the purchasing power of money has been reduced by the rising cost of living, and invalid, old-age and military pensions have been increased, will the Treasurer, when preparing the budget, consider the advisability of making a similar increase of disabled soldiers’ stabilized pensions?
– In the absence of the Minister for Trade and Customs, will the Prime Minister inform me why the Prices Commissioner recently approved an increase of the price of power alcohol by 8d. a gallon?
– I cannot give the reason, but I shall have the information obtained from the Department of Trade and Customs and conveyed to the honorable member.
– Will the Treasurer, before completing the budget, afford to the special parliamentary committee, which last year examined the War-time (Company) Tax Bill, an opportunity to review the results of the operation of the act?
– I shall give consideration to the matter.
– Last Thursday, I addressed the following question to the Minister for the Army: -
In view of the announcement made some time ago that provision would be made for the issuing of free rail passes to soldiers in uniform when on leave, I askthe Minister for the Army whether an instructionhas been issued to the Eastern Command to grant this concession, and if so, whether it has been withdrawn from soldiers in any camps?
Is the Minister yet in a position to answer the question?
– A t the moment,I am unable to answer the question; but I shall inquire into the matter.
Eviction of Tenants in Melbourne.
– Is the Minister for the Array aware that the Director of Hi rings is taking possession of premises in Melbourne occupied by firms, some of which are engaged on government war contracts, although ample space is available close to the premises from which the department is proposing to evict the present lessees? Will the Minister delay the evictions until such time as inquiries have been made with a view to preventing injustices from arising from peremptory action?
– I am aware that the various service departments, particularly my own department, are experiencing great difficulty in obtaining suitable premises.
– Thousands of square feet of floor space is available.
– It does not follow that it is suitable. It is impossible to answer a general question about alleged injustices, but if specific examples are furnished to me, I shall have inquiries made.
– Will the Minister for the Army conduct an immediate investigation of the facts which I submitted to this House last night regarding the proposed eviction, by the Director of Hi rings, of certain firms from premises in Melbourne? It is proposed that one such eviction shall be effected this week. If the Minister will carry out the investigation, will he also take steps to have this eviction postponed until the inquiry is completed and he is satisfied that no injustice” is being done?
– The answer to each part of the question is “Yes”.
Family Unit - War Pensions and Allotment Pay
– In the framing of the budget, has the Treasurer considered giving effect to the recent direction of this house to the Government to increase to £2 10s., the family unit for applicants for invalid pensions?
– The contents of the budget will be kept secret until it is brought down.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is the practice to treat war pensions as income when assessing eligibility for invalid or old-age pensions? If so, will that practice be discontinued ?
– There has been no change whatever in the pensions system, except that income from allotments made by soldiers to their parents or invalid wives is not classed as income and does not in any way interfere with the granting of new pensions or the maintenance of existing pensions.
– Is it a fact that recipients of the old-age pension will have their pension reduced in the event of their receiving a pension from the Repatriation Department as the result of the death of a son at the war ?
– I have not yet heard of that being done. I reaffirm what I said in answer to the honorable member for East Sydney.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that allotments made to relatives of members of the Australian Imperial Force are not taken into account by the Pensions Department when considering applications for invalid or old-age pensions, whereas payments made on behalf of members of the Militia Forces, or other home-service units, are treated as income. If this be so, is the honorable gentleman prepared to place the relatives of members of all forces on the same basis ?
– No. I consider that there is just cause for discrimination between men who are serving overseas and men who are serving at home.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether pensions in respect of war service in 1914-18 are taken into account in assessing eligibility for invalid or old-age pensions? If so, will he have the practice discontinued?
– No case of this kind has yet come to my notice.
– I have details of several cases in my possession.
– I assure the honorable gentleman that, when such cases are brought to my attention, they will be dealt with in the same generous manner as has characterized the whole of the administration of the Pensions Department by this Government.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the commanding officers of various sections of the defence forces have issued instructions to all members of those forces that they must not take grievances to members of Parliament? Is the Prime Minister aware that those instructions mean that service men have no appeal to other than those who inflict punishment upon them and that the men have been denied their civil rights? If the men have no appeal to their local members, to whom can they appeal?
– I shall ascertain the position in the three services and advise the honorable member.
– In a recent speech the Prime Minister said : “I am told that it is the duty of a really well-disposed Prime Minister to be extraordinarily pleasant and inoffensive and extraordinarily tactful. Well, I must give up being tactful and pleasant and inoffensive in view of recent happenings … I feel like a bull in the bull-ring.” Is that a threat or a promise that, maddened by the banderillas of chulos within his own party, he will run berserk and be despatched by a matador in the Labour party ?
– On the whole, the question is humorous.
– On the 22nd August, the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) asked whether the evidence given before the various joint parliamentary committees should be made available to honorable members. The chairmen of the committees were communicated with. The chairman of the Profits Committee, Senator Spicer, has advised that a copy of the transcript is in the hands of the secretary of the committee and that that copy may be inspected by any honorable member upon application to the secretary. The evidence given before the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee was given in camera and, therefore, cannot be available for inspection. The chairman of the Social Security Committee, Mr. Perkins, states that, if it be considered desirable, a proof copy of the evidence can be laid on the table of the Library. I take it that honorable members would like that to be done. Replies are awaited from four other committees.
– On the 27th August, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) questioned the wisdom of broadcasting information about the sabotage of the German war effort. This matter has been referred to the Chief Publicity Censor, who is inquiring into what was actually broadcast.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that members of permanent military forces are paid at a lower rate than members of the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia Forces, and that permanent soldiers who wish to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force must forfeit their pension rights in order to do so?
– I cannot give an exact reply to the second part of the honorable member’s question, but members of the permanent forces generally are much better off than are members of the Australian Imperial Force. They have privileges and superannuation benefits. The honorable member would be satisfied that my view is correct if he compared the figures.
Minister’s Answer to Question
– Is the Treasurer prepared to take any action against the person who was responsible for an incorrect answer being given to a question, which I asked, upon notice, in this House last week? The question dealt with an instruction issued by the Treasury to the Postmaster-General’s Department to ignore the concessional allowance for all except the first child under the age of sixteen years in any family when deducting taxation instalments from the salaries of the department’s employees. The answer stated that no such Treasury instructions had been issued. I am now in possession of Treasury Circular No. 9, which states distinctly that the course which I have mentioned shall be taken by the department. A Treasury circular has also been issued to the Clerk of the House of Representatives instructing him to take similar action against honorable members of this House.
– I have already instituted inquiries with a view to taking appropriate action in connexion with the matter.
– Does the Minister for War Organization of Industry propose to adopt the recommendations of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee, of which he was chairman for some time, and if so, has he yet taken any steps to implement them? I refer particularly to the recommendations relating to technical training, the use of small factories for munitions work, and the provision of credit facilities for those establishments?
– The committee’s recommendations with regard to technical training do not come within the province of my department ; they relate to the work of the Department of Labour and National Service. However, I am already giving some attention to the proposals for the use of small factories for munitions production, and I propose to give the subject a great deal more attention in the future. They come primarily under the charge of the Minister for Munitions, through the Area Boards of Management in the different States, but, as they must be related to the war organization of industry, I am conferring with the Minister for Munitions with a view to securing his collaboration in the consideration of the problem. Many other subjects have been mentioned in the two early reports of the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee, and I intend to give attention in the near future to such of them, as relate to the work of my department.
– At what time in the financial year 1941-42 does the Treasurer intend to submit, for the consideration of this House, the Supplementary Estimates for the financial year 1939-40? What is the reason for the inordinate delay in submitting these Estimates to the House?
– In reply to the first part of the question, I inform the honorable member candidly that I do not know. With regard to the second part of the question, the reason for the delay is obvious, particularly to the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs able to give to the House any information concerning plans which may have been made for the use of British forces to create a second front against the Nazi armed forces in order to afford some relief to the . sorely-pressed Russian armies?
– The answer is in the negative.
Sitting suspended from3.18 to4.53 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Ministerial Representation in Lon don - Political Situation - Dairy Produce Control Committee - Priority Dairy Products Committee - Doctors on Military Service - Liquid Fuel Control Board., Victoria - War Service - Taxation of Payments by Employers - Australian Expeditionary Force: Leave and
Allowances - Textile Industry Dispute - Egg Drying Process - Use of Ministerial Cars - Royal Australian Air Force : Conditions at Richmond Station - Child Endowment: Income Tax Deductions.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to inform the House that, in view of the continued importance of matters that require special consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom, the Government of the Commonwealth has decided that a Minister, other than the Prime Minister, should be sent to London as soon as practicable for that purpose.
.- I compliment the members of the Government parties upon their devotion to duty, as is evidenced, by the large attendance in the chamber to ensure the passing of this motion. I do not know whether the Opposition refused to grant pairs, but presumably supporters of the Government are anxious to hasten into recess at the earliest possible moment so that to-morrow they may attend to other matters of minor importance outside the chamber. Nobody else will be permitted to attend, and speculation is rife as to what will happen. At any rate, I shall be a disinterested onlooker in the National Capital until the fates have decided what is in store for those who are Ministers, those who hoped to be Ministers but were not so fortunate, and those who still have hopes of achieving Cabinet rank. All that reposes in the lap of the gods.
Turning now to more important matters than the prospects of individual members of Parliament for ministerial appointment, I desire to refer to several subjects that are causing great concern to some of my constituents and to the community generally. Earlier to-day, I asked the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) why certain producers were not given representation upon the Dairy Produce Control Committee and the Priority Dairy Products Committee. The Minister replied that the members of those bodies were representative of the producers. For the information of the right honorable gentleman I shall read a portion of a letter that I have received from the secretary of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association. He wrote to me because the head-quarters of the organization is situated in my electorate. The letter reads -
My association, representative of the dairyfarmer producers of Victoria and the Primary Producers’ Union of New South Wales, two organizations with a farmer membership of 27,000 have made repeated representations to the Minister for Commerce, Sir Earle Page, for producer representation upon the control committee and all other committees set up to control the dairying industry, and so far we have not succeeded.
Every member of the committee represents some other interest than the interests of the man who produces and owns the product.
– That does not mean that the representatives are not farmers. For instance, I am a dairy-farmer, and am also a member of this body.
– The Victorian Dairymen’s Association, which claims to speak on behalf of thousands of producers, declares that it is not satisfied with the manner in which this matter has been handled.
– The association is satisfied with the way in which the money lias been expended.
– T invite the Minister to listen carefully to the remaining portion of the letter -
I nin awaiting a further reply to the enclosed resolutions from Sir Earle Page, but am very far from confident our demands will be met. The same position applies to New South Wales, which you may verify by communicating with Mr. .T. Shute, general secretary, Primary Producers’ Union, Sydney.
The resolution which was enclosed with the letter is as follows : -
That the Central Council of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association fully recognizing the urgent need of diverting cream for butter manufacture into milk for cheese manufacture, and being desirous of rendering all possible assistance in this regard, emphatically expresses the opinion that at least lid. per gallon compensation must be paid to the farmer fur the loss of skim milk and further stresses to the Dairy Produce Control Committee that in order to obtain the ready co-operation of the producers, must immediately announce that the minimum compensation will bc as suggested in the foregoing for it is seriously considered that delay in so doing will result in failure to obtain milk for cheese in Victoria.
That this meeting of central council instructs the executive to demand and take every possible action to procure the appointment of direct representation upon the Dairy Produce Control Committee and any other industry committees which may be formed and are seriously concerned that whilst drastic changes vitally affecting the livelihood of dairy farmers are being contemplated they have no direct voice in these vital matters.
I shall hand the correspondence to the Minister in- the hope that it will influence him to change his opinion about the matter.
Although the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) does his best to get on top of the military machine, he sometimes, unfortunately, slips down among the cogs. I wish that he would extricate himself occasionally, because he is usually most attentive to my requests. I have complained to him about the action of the Assistant Director of Medical Services in Victoria in calling up for compulsory military service certain doctors in the age groups. One of them, who is a highly qualified practitioner, has a large industrial practice, is an honorary surgeon at a leading Melbourne hospital, is a lecturer in one of the colleges, and is very well regarded in the profession. 1 have suggested that, because of his engagements, and because he is a gynaecologist and an obstetrician, he should be exempt from military service.
– The Director-General of Medical Services also has those qualifications.
– I do not dispute that ; but this doctor is in general practice.
– Has he a partner?
– No, but he has a part-time assistant. Colonel Shaw is confusing the issue by suggesting that the doctor has a partner who could take his place.
– If he has no partner, I shall consider the matter.
– Definitely, he has no partner. His part-time assistant qualified as a doctor at the last supplementary examinations, and, as a result, failed to obtain appointment as a resident at one of the leading hospitals. The doctor employs him as a clinical clerk. The doctor does not permit him, on account of his inexperience, to attend surgical cases or confinements. My suggestion is that medical officers should be divided into “ reserved “ and “ non-reserved “ classes. Every specialist should not be required to enter camp simply because he belongs to a certain age group. His value to the community should be weighed before he is called up for military service. Many young doctors, who are doubtless good general practitioners, could be obtained for the Army, but highly-qualified men, some of whom studied in London, or pursued higher studies in Melbourne and other Australian universities, can render better service to the community by remaining in civil practice. In. the early months of the war many more doctors were in camp than were required. After the sick parade each morning they had nothing to do for nearly 24 hours. There is a serious shortage of medical men, and I am not prepared to take the word of some of the older doctors as to who should go to camp and who should stay in their practices. Many of them have been out of practice for years, and ought not to be in military positions to-day. I hope that, during the brief period for which he will be permitted to remain in office, the Minister for the Army will carry out something in the nature of a purge on the medical side of the military establishment. I am not at all impressed by the fact that a letter has been sent by the secretary of the British Medical Association in Victoria to Sir Alan Newton, a leading Melbourne surgeon, who gives a judgment against my doctor constituent, because the decision is based on wrong premises. If the Minister will reconsider the application for exemption and act fairly and courageously, as he generally does with regard to matters brought to his notice, I think that he will grant the desired exemption.
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development to take action against the Liquid Fuel Control Board in Victoria on a matter concerning its general administration. I am not referring to the allotment of petrol ration tickets or to related matters, but to the control of the staff which is employed by it and to the board’s attitude to the organization which desires to make representations to it on behalf of the staff. I have a copy of a letter which the secretary of the Victorian Public Service Association, of which I was one time president, has forwarded to the Minister for Supply and Development (“Senator McBride) in which the charge i.= made that the board has refused to receive representations by this organization regarding the salaries and conditions of employment of the staff. In refusing to recognize the association as competent to speak on behalf of the employees, the board is claiming a right which is denied to employers of labour generally. Such bodies as this association have every right to organize employees, for, by that means, industrial peace is maintained. The board has no reason for refusing to permit the association either to organize or make representations on behalf of its staff. A unique situation is brought about by the fact that the salaries, sick leave and recreation leave of many members of the staff are entirely unsatisfactory, and the association claims that the staff should be treated in these matters in the same manner as officers who are at present permanently employed under the Commonwealth Public Servce Act. That is quite a reasonable claim, but the board desires to be a law unto itself. Like a great many more of the boards with which we are plagued, this board could well be abolished, but while it administers some law or regulation, the Minister in charge of it should see that the Victorian Public Service Association is allowed to make representations to it, that it receives those representations, and that it grants conditions of employment equal to those of other Commonwealth employees. I have been asked to see that steps are taken immedately to bring the salaries and conditions of the employees into line with those of other Commonwealth administrations. [Extension of time granted.]
On the 23rd July, the Melbourne City Council forwarded a letter to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) informing him that, immediately after the outbreak of war, the Corporation of the City of Melbourne decided that permanent officers and employees of the council engaged on naval, military, Air Force, or other military duties in connexion with the war, be paid any deficiency between the amount of their pay and allowance for such duties and their salaries or wages in the service of the corporation. The letter further stated -
At the last meeting of the finance committee of the council, reference waa made to the fact that such payments, which have been estimated to amount to £22,700 for the current municipal year ending on 30th September. 1941, are subject to the incidence of the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act 1941, and Councillor Calwell, M.H.R., informed the committee that he had personally submitted a request to you thatsuch ex-gratia payments should be exempted from the pay-roll tax.
I have, therefore, by direction of the committee, to ask that consideration be given to the question of exempting such payments, which the council has voluntarily undertaken, from the pay-roll tax.
– I have already made a statement through, the press that such payments by employers would be exempted from the pay-roll tax.
– That is news to me, and I am pleased to hear it.
– I recently gave instructions, in anticipation of an amendment of the law, that that be done.
– These are ex gratia payments, and they are made by not only the Corporation of the City of Melbourne, but also State governments and many private employers of labour who have done what they regard as reasonable and fair.
I draw the attention of the Minister for the Army to the contents of a letter received from a soldier who is serving overseas. The letter is dated the 13th June last, and, as it has already been passed by the censor, the statements contained in it may be accepted as true. In writing to his father the soldier states -
We are still in camp. Am having my teeth attended to, lost bottom set when ship -went down. Still short of clothes and until I get some I cannot go on leave. Some of the lads went on leave without permission and the Colonel has handed them all 28 days. I might mention that as well as 28 days in clink, you lose 28 days’ pay. I thought he was a bit tough, seeing the lads had no leave for six months and had been through three campaigns. Troops are only getting one or two days’ leave and very little of it. Of course the officers, including the Colonel, have seven days. In fact it was the day after he arrived back from his seven days that he handed out the 28 days. Still things may even up some day. I might mention my pal “ Slim “ took three days and he fronts to-morrow. It’s guineas to gooseberries on 28.
A lot of funny things happen in these wars that I don’t agree with. Without mentioning anything of a military nature, it is with regard to losses in Greece. I lost everything, from a gold watch (a present) and blade razor, clothes - right down to my false teeth. I get nothing. Officers who only lost the same as the troops, with perhaps the exception of their valise that they sleep in, received £27 to replace their lost property. I am still practically naked. Officers left their trunks and cases in Alexandria before they left for Greece. They arrived the next day and they are O.K. The lads left their sea kit bags there, with some gear in them. They have not arrived and nobody seems to give a hang when they do.
To some this may seem fair, but I’m blowed if I can see eye to eye with it. Still what can you do? In the army, nothing but grin and bear it.
I ask , the Minister for the Army to take notice of that letter. It is unfair discrimination if officers receive an allowance with which to replace losses, and privates nothing. It is also unfair that men after three campaigns are confined to barracks for 28 days and lose pay for that period, because, having had no leave for six months, they take leave. I hope that the fines will be remitted and that something will be done to ensure that men shall be given reasonable leave. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statements in that letter, but I know the writer, and he is a man who tells the truth. I hope that when we meet again, there will be no further cause for complaints such as I have made to-day.
– I bring to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) a dispute in the textile industry which threatens to develop into a major stoppage of work, with serious effects on production of articles required in the prosecution of the war. I have nothing to say about the merits or demerits of the dispute. My reason for rising is to solicit the aid of the Minister in inducing the employers to accede to the request of the employees for a round-table conference. When I was handling industrial matters with the Chamber of Manufactures, SirRobert Gibson and I never refused each other a conference, and we used to do everything possible, not only to settle disputes amicably, but also to avert them. The Chamber of Manufactures seems to have forgotten that conciliation is a part of its constitution, because it has refused to meet the representatives of the employees at a conference. I now suggest to the Minister that he agree to meet me and two or three representatives of the employees in Melbourne with a view to his assisting them in their desire for a round-table conference with the employers in order that conciliation may replace direct action.
[5.19’J. - I bad already taken cognizance of the dispute in the textile industry when my attention was drawn specifically to it by the Depa rtment of Supply, which pointed out that the stoppage of work was interfering seriously with the production of certain woollen goods, blankets, for example, which were urgently required for military services. I should be glad to accede to the request of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), that I meet him and some representatives of the union, because I am always happy to confer with representatives of parties to matters in dispute, if they consider that my doing so will serve a useful purpose. I make it clear to the honorable member and through him to the parties to this dispute that the responsibility of the Government is to ensure that an impartial tribunal is readily available for the settlement of industrial disputes. In this case, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court investigated the matters in dispute and gave its award. I should not like any indication by me that I should be prepared to meet the representatives of the union to be construed as a promise that I shall use my influence to affect the decision of the Arbitration Court. Nevertheless, if there is any aspect of the matter in which my good offices would be of assistance, I shall be glad to meet the representatives of the union.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) suggested that the Dairy Produce Control Committee consisted of vested interests which had no personal interest in the dairy farmers’ product. The Dairy Produce Control Committee consists of seven members. The chairman is Sir Give McPherson, who. as government representative on the Australian Dairy Produce Board for the last 20 years, has given universal satisfaction to every dairy producer in Australia, and whose sagacity and wisdom have been of incalculable benefit to the dairying industry. I do not wish to speak particularly about Sir Clive McPherson. I shall confine my attention to the remaining members of the committee, all of whom are members of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, and who were chosen by that board on which the producers have four direct representatives. The first is Mr. T. Flood Plunkett, M.L.A., chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, and a dairy-farmer living on his own farm in Queensland. He has been chairman of that board for eighteen years.
– He has other interests.
– His interests lie almost entirely in the management of his farm. He is also chairman of directors of the Beaudesert Butter Factory, but he is essentially a dairying man. He is a’ dairy-farmer and he also looks after the interests of all dairy-farmers in Australia. Other members of the board are Major J. R. King, who is manager of the Producers Co-operative Society of New South “Wales, and Mr. W. J. Broadhead, manager of Norco. Those two organizations comprise the whole of the cooperative butter organizations in New South Wales. They are owned entirely by the farmers of New South Wales and there is not a penny of outside capital invested in them. Major King and Mr. Broadhead speak entirely for co-operative companies. Then there is Mr. A. W. Wilson, who is on the board as a representative of Victorian co-operative interests. He is also a dairy-farmer, and the co-operative companies which he represents do not possess one penny of outside capital. The fifth member is Mr. H. E. Handbury who, in addition to being a representative of proprietary dairy produce manufacturers, is himself a dairy-farmer. Originally. Mr. McKenzie, the president of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association, represented the producers’ organizations, but when fie died a few months ago it was suggested that it would be wise to appoint in his place a man associated with the technical side of butter production. Accordingly, Mr. J. Proud, the president of the Australian Institute of Dairy Factory Managers and Secretaries, was appointed. As it has been suggested that since then the producers have not had direct representation on the Australian Dairy Produce Board, I point out that Mr. M. P. Dunlop, of New South Wales, who was the person most likely to be chosen died suddenly two or three weeks ago. Only this week I have been in touch with primary producers’ organizations in New South Wales, and as soon as the negotiations with them have been concluded the question of the direct representation of that section will be considered and finalized.
Honorable members may have noticed that the writer of the letter which the honorable gentleman was good enough to hand to me, in which it was stated that hundreds of thousands of pounds had been expended - half of it came directly out of the pockets of the taxpayers - admitted that the money had been wisely expended. Indeed, the administration has received the endorsement of practically all of the dairymen of Australia.
– Will the right honorable gentleman receive a deputation from the Dairymen’s Association when next he is in Melbourne?
– I shall be pleased to do so, if necessary; but as the result of a discussion which I have had with the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) who is closely in touch with the dairymen of Victoria, suggestions were made which I think will be satisfactory to the dairying interests, in which event a deputation will be unnecessary; however, should the dairymen not be satisfied, 1 shall be pleased to receive a deputation from them.
On the 22nd August the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), raised the question of the bona fides of Vestey’s Limited, in handling the eggdrying process for the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the producers of eggs in this country. He implied that there was something sinister about the whole undertaking. Far from that being so, the Commonwealth Government, and every producer of eggs in Australia, is indebted to Mr. Bowater, the general manager in Australia of the company, and to the company itself, for making available to the Commonwealth at shortnotice egg-drying plants which were about to be erected in China. Before the war, Australia exported about 12,000 tons of refrigerated eggs each year, but as the result of shipping restrictions the British Government, intimated that space could not be found for eggs in refri gerated form on ships trading with England, and that the only way in which eggs could be shipped was in dried form as ordinary cargo. The Commonwealth Government was also told that the maximum space which could be allotted to eggs was about 1,000 tons. The Government immediately endeavoured to arrange for the drying of eggs in Australia this year. At first it seemed to be impossible to get the plants ready in time, owing to the enormous demands of the Department of Supply in respect of munitions. It was thought that we should be fortunate if we could establish in Australia one plant to handle one-tenth or one-twelfth of the supply of eggs. Fortunately, the Government was able to arrange for Vestey’s Limited to transfer to Australia, plants intended for use in China; it .also arranged for shipping space to enable the plants to be brought here. We had to get the plants as quickly as possible and also specialists with experience of the egg-drying process. The result is that we have been able to establish six of these plants in Sydney, and four in Melbourne. In addition, we have persuaded the British Government to provide sufficient refrigerated space to enable the eggs produced in South Australia and Western Australia -to be exported. It was not found practicable to erect egg-drying plants in those States. In the light of these facts, the statements which have been made regarding Vestey’s Limited are to be deprecated. I assure the honorable member for Melbourne that his charges are without foundation. Had it not been for the timely assistance of Vestey’s Limited we could not have shipped eggs to Britain. I point out, further, that Vestey’s Limited merely process the eggs; at all times the legal possession of the eggs remains with the Commonwealth Government. The assistance afforded by this company has been of inestimable value to the poultryfarmers of Australia, whose industry has been saved from destruction.
– On the 27th August, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked a question, without notice, in regard to the wasteful use of ministerial cars. The Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) states that he has no record of the wasteful use of cars by Ministers. Cars have been made available to Ministers to enable them to carry out their ministerial duties and responsibilities. It will be appreciated that Ministers, by virtue of the offices they hold, are called upon to carry out many important functions in connexion with which the use of cars is essential. Moreover, the high pressure at which Ministers must work, particularly in view of the present international position, renders it necessary that cars be used.
The use of cars is not confined to Commonwealth Ministers. Ministers of State governments also are compelled to use oars to enable them satisfactorily to carry out their duties; in some cases cars and chauffeurs are specially allotted to individual State Ministers. The Commonwealth chauffeurs work under a roster system, which provides that each driver will have an opportunity to earn any overtime that may be necessary in driving ministerial cars. All costs in connexion with the use of ministerial cars are debited to one vote in the Department of the Interior. Recently the honorable member stated that a minister sent a car from Melbourne to Brisbane in order to bring his wife back to Canberra. No record can be found in the Department of the Interior of any such trip.
– In a recent speech allegations concerning conditions at the Richmond Aerodrome were made. I take this opportunity to reply to those allegations which an investigation has shown to be substantially without foundation. The official report furnished to me indicates that the statements made by the honorable gentleman were due to some misunderstanding of the position actually obtaining at Richmond station. At no time did a “sit-down” strike occur at Richmond. The commanding officer, upon receiving information that certain men who were dissatisfied with the hours of work, were attempting to induce the men of No. 2 Aircraft Depot to hold a “sitdown” strike, promptly called a conference of all unit commanders. In order to maintain the maximum output from No. 2 Aircraft Depot, which is a vital link in the maintenance of flying at flying training schools, the men had been granted two days’ leave a fortnight. After full consideration, the commanding officer decided to alter the hours of work in order to enable the men to have three days’ leave a fortnight. This, of course, was distinct from, and in addition to the normal four days’ quarterly recreation leave granted to all non-flying members of the service. The commanding officer did, in fact, address the men on parade, and stressed the necessity for each one to do his utmost in the present struggle. He informed them, as he had done on other occasions, of the correct manner of bringing any complaints to official notice, and assured them that complaints so made would receive prompt and full investigation and that remedial action would be taken, if justified. With regard to the reference to periods of leave, no Air Board instruction was addressed specifically to Richmond that the men were to have four days’ leave, later increasing the period to five days. The general policy, as laid down by the Air Board, is that nonflying personnel shall be granted four days’ quarterly leave if the exigencies of the Service permit. It is thought that the reference must have been to this policy, and not to any specific instruction issued to Richmond. As I have already stated, no such instruction was issued, and the week-end leave which was referred to is distinct and additional to normal quarterly recreational leave. The decision to grant three days’ week-end leave a fortnight has been adhered to, and I am advised that the whole of the men’s leave was not cancelled as alleged, either because some of the men desired to catch a particular train or for any other reason. The honorable gentleman’s statement that men were marched backwards and forwards three or four times in the rain, owing to their having hurried to avoid the rain, is also without foundation, according to the investigations that have been made. Furthermore, the report shows that at no time did the commanding officer have occasion to march the men, although he was at times present at parades when the men were marched by their unit commanders. The honorable gentleman also referred to the entraining of personnel at Clarendon station. The official report in this connexion confirms that no order was issued that airmen were not to walk upon the platform at Clarendon railway station until the officers had entered the railway carriages. Owing to the fact that one man had been injured, and another had fallen between a moving train and the platform, due to the men rushing to board the train, the commanding officer issued an order that personnel were to parade on .the platform, and not move to the carriages until trains had stopped. This order proved to be ineffective, as it was found that, notwithstanding the order, men still endeavoured to board the trains before they had stopped. For their own protection, the commanding officer then ordered that the men were to “ fall in “ off the station platform and wait under the control of noncommissioned officers until the train had stopped, when they would be allowed to board the train. Before that order was issued, a request was received from the stationmaster at Windsor that action be taken to stop the men from boarding moving trains. There is a militia camp in the vicinity of the Clarendon station, and the militia authorities have been requested to co-operate with the Air Force when large batches of men are about to board trains. Those authorities have given an assurance that they will adhere to a practice similar to that of the Air Force. This procedure would not, however, apply when only small batches of men were to entrain. The suggestions that the commanding officer had ordered men not to board trains until officers had done so is not confirmed by fact. It is regretted that the honorable gentleman made certain disparaging statements concerning the commanding officer. I have no hesitation in assuring honorable members that that officer, Group Captain Wilson, enjoys the full confidence of the Air Board. That is evidenced by his recent transfer to a higher command with increased responsibilities. While he was at Richmond, he took a keen interest in promoting and fostering the welfare of the personnel serving at that station.
– Earlier this afternoon, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked a question relating to departmental procedure with regard to taxation deductions. He claimed that I, as Treasurer, had given an incorrect answer to a question which he had asked last week. I have since made investigations, and have received the following report from the Commissioner of Taxation: -
The answer given to the honorable member’s questions last Friday contained no misstatement, and does not call for any action. The honorable member is obviously confusing the matter of the collection of income tax by instalments with the matter of the liability for payment of tax when the latter is definitely established by the issue of an assessment notice. The reply made in the House last Friday definitely admitted there was a Treasury instruction issued relating to the collection of the tax by instalments, but no Treasury instruction issued regarding the assessment or computation of the tax which would in due course be notified strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
I also take this opportunity to reply to points raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), regarding the deduction of tax instalments from Public Service salaries. They challenged the right of the Minister, in the issue of a Treasury instruction, to take into account the proposed decrease of concessional deductions under the Income Tax Assessment Act for the purpose of income taxation for 1941-42. The basic consideration in connexion with this matter relates to the arrangements, which were discussed in this House, for financing the Commonwealth child endowment scheme. Honorable members will recall that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), when introducing the child endowment legislation in this House, set out very clearly that finance was to be provided by means of a 2£ per cent, pay-roll tax, from which a return of £9,000,000 was anticipated, and that more than £2,000,000 would be derived from the abolition of the income tax deductions for each child under sixteen years of age, after the first, in each family. The balance of the £13,000,000 involved in the scheme was to come from general revenue. There was never any doubt in my mind, nor, I suggest, in the minds of honorable members and the general body of taxpayers, that the abolition of the exemption provided in the Taxation Act for dependent children in excess of one was being more than offset - except in the higher ranges of income - by the amount of £13 per annum that was to be paid as endowment in respect of such children. Referring now to the Treasury instruction to Commonwealth paying officers to take this proposed reduction for children into account in arranging the tax instalment deductions for public servants, I point out that, whereas, for the majority of salary and wageearners, the act and regulations provide for a certain deduction to be made on the basis of the gross salary or wages - to meet which employers purchase tax stamps and hand them to their employees - there is a provision in section 221k of the Income Tax Assessment Act for group schemes to be arranged with the Commissioner of Taxation for cash deductions to be made in lieu of the utilization of stamps. These group schemes for tax deductions generally facilitate the work of the paying officer in large industries and government departments, and have been introduced mainly for the purpose of making it easier for the taxpayer to meet his taxation obligations. There is no doubt in my mind that the group schemes effectively contribute to that result. They also tend to bring about economies in the pay sections of the various departments. There is a further power in section 221d of the Income Tax Assessment Act to vary the amounts of the instalments in order to facilitate the payment of taxes, and it is under this power that the Treasury officials have sought the Commissioner’s consent to vary the basis of deductions for the group scheme as far as Commonwealth public servants are concerned. I stress that the arrangement to which exception is being taken relates only to Commonwealth public servants, and that, in making it, the sole desire of the Treasury officials was to assist public servants to meet their taxation obligations. The various Commonwealth departments have certain information regarding concessional deductions allowable to employees which ordinary businesses have not. In order to make the fortnightly instalment deductions approximate as closely as possible to the actual assessment of tax to be met towards the close of the financial year, the Treasury offi- cials arranged, in connexion with the 1940-41 instalment group scheme, to take these known concessional deductions into account. The deductions cover the allowances for children, superannuation payments, and life assurance. By making these deductions and calculating the instalment by reference to the net income instead of the gross income, the amount deducted from the salaries of public servants is very considerably less than that which could be deducted under the regulation. The same provisions were taken into account by the Treasury officials in working out a group scheme of instalment deductions for 1941-42; but in making the deduction for children, the Treasury officials, after having obtained my approval, limited such deductions to the first dependent child only. The consequence is that, though the instalment deduction thus calculated is slightly higher in respect of a Commonwealth public servant with more than one child, it is still a lesser amount than that which would be payable on the gross income as provided for by the regulation.
Notwithstanding what has been said in this House by the honorable member for West Sydney, I have no doubt that the general body of the Commonwealth public servants are really appreciative of the Treasury officials’ endeavours to ascertain as closely as possible the appropriate tax instalment deduction. In those instances where the number of children is such that, under the present law, no tax at all is payable, it is quite a simple procedure for the officer to apply to the Deputy Commissioner for a certificate of exemption. Such certificates would not be refused. As a matter of fact, thousands of exemption certificates have already been issued to Commonwealth public servants. I suggest that the particular aspect honorable members need to keep in mind in this connexion is the fact that the instalment deductions are distinct from the tax assessable. Later in the financial year an assessment will be made in accordance with the law as declared by this Parliament. The instalment deductions will then be applied in meeting the actual tax assessed. Whether an additional amount will then have to be paid to meet the tax assessed, or whether a small refund will be due to the taxpayer, will depend entirely upon the approximation to the tax that has been reached in fixing the instalments. The remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney with regard to the Government robbing taxpayers of their concessional rights and of “ rigging “ the endowment scheme are unworthy of reply. I give a deliberate denial to the statement of the honorable member that the Deputy Commissioners in the various States have been given an instruction that, in making assessments of returns furnished for 1940-41, the concessional deduction for children should apply to one child only.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - St. Mary’s, New South Wales.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1941 -
No. 21 - Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia; Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees’ Union of Australia; and Vehicle Builders Employees’ Federation of Australia.
No. 22 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union; and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association.
House adjourned at 5.50 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, such date and hour to be not later than Wednesday, the 17th September next, at 3 p.m.
r asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
When does he anticipate that he will be able to make a decision as to whether the benefits of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act shall be paid to the widows of the crew of the M.V. Nimbin, which was mined off the coast in December, 1940?
– It is understood that the following amounts of compensation have been paid by the owners of the lost ship to the widows of mariners who lost their lives: - Under award - To wife of master, £1,720 10s. 6d.; and to wife of mate, £1,153 10s. 6d. Under Workers Compensation Act - To wife of engineer, £800; to wife of able-bodied seaman, £800 ; and to wife of greaser, £875. The Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act was intended to provide for war accidents and losses not otherwise covered. It was not intended to provide for double compensation. The whole subject is still under consideration at present with a view to an appropriate adjustment of the matter.
y asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Flinders Naval Base: Week-end Leave.
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s. - On the 21st August, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government proposes to discontinue the letting of contracts under the cost-plus system for the manufacture of munitions and war equipment V
I desire to inform the honorable member that when the Department of Munitions was established last year it faced an enormous task of procuring large quantities of complicated items of munitions and military stores, the manufacture of which had never been attempted in Australia, and, consequently, there was no commercial counterpart to guide either the manufacturers or the department on the price aspect. In many cases, improvisation was necessary owing to the absence of the correct raw materials or components. Moreover, factories and workshops which were not set up for the production of munitions had to be reorganized on an efficient basis to enable manufacture to be undertaken. The whole of the circumstances were such that the adoption of fixed prices was quite impracticable, and would have been unfair from the contractors’ point of view and also from the Commonwealth’s point of view. The only manner in which a manufacturer could have covered himself against possible loss arising out of the newness of the work and the unforeseen difficulties relating to both labour and material would have been to quote a fantastic price, which would have been open to grave objection. In the circumstances surrounding the inauguration of the munitions programme, there was no alternative to the so-called cost-plus system, of which there are many variants and concerning which there are many checks. No doubt, it will be necessary to continue the cost-plus system in relation to certain contracts, but where an’ effective alternative can be followed, this will be done. It is necessary to appreciate, however, that the various cases have to be decided on their merits, and the whole system has to be sufficiently flexible to cover such cases, and at the same time ensure that delay is avoided and maximum production obtained. This the Government- has accomplished.
Oil ADVISORY Committee.
– On the 21st August, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked a question, without notice, as to which members of the former Oil Cartel had been approached by him with a view to their acting on the new Oil Advisory Committee.
The Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply : -
The Oil Advisory Committee includes in its personnel representatives of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, Shell Company of Australia Limited, Vacuum Oil Company Proprietary Limited, and Caltex Limited, together with two members representing Independent Oil Industries, Australian Motorists Petrol Company, Alba Petroleum Company of Australia Proprietary Limited and H. C. Sleigh’. The Minister is chairman of the committee and the secretary and another officer of the Department of Supply and Development arc members also. Ihe committee will be purely advisory and complete power of action and responsibility is vested in the Minister.
On the 21st August, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked. without notice, whether I would lay on the table of the House the names and interests of the members of the defunct Oil Cartel, and the names and interests of the members and/or likely members of the Oil Advisory Committee, in order that honorable members might know whether or not the interests represented on the Oil Cartel are not also represented on the Oil Advisory Committee under the same or different names.
The Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply : -
Hie Oil Industry Cartel comprised the nine importing oil companies and the personnel of the governing body consisted of representatives of those member companies. The Oil Advisory Committee is to function in a purely advisory capacity and, by the very nature of things, the personnel must consist, in part, of persona representative of the oil industry. The committee will be composed of representatives from the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, Vacuum Oil Company, Shell Company of Australia Limited and Caltex Limited, whilst two members - Messrs. W. G. Walkley (Sydney) and H. C. Sleigh (Melbourne) - have been appointed to represent the four following companies, viz., Alba Petroleum Company, H. C. Sleigh, Australian Motorists Petrol Limited. Sydney, and Independent Oil Industries Proprietary Limited, Sydney. It is emphasized that all executive power is vested in the Minister, who will preside at meetings of the committee. In his absence, an officer of the Department of Supply and Development, which is represented by two officials, shall preside.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410828_reps_16_168/>.