16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Use of Intelligence Service Funds - Appointment of Secret Funds Royal Commission
– by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) announced in the course of the statement that he made yesterday in connexion with the use of the fund established for a special purpose in February, 1940, that if there were any matters in respect of which there was need for fuller statement and explanation, the Government would be willing to set up a royal commission to conduct an investigation. I then said that, on the known facts, it was my view that a case had been made out that there had been a wrong use of this fund. It is quite conceivable, however, that the known facts do not disclose all of the facts. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), with my authority, last night made it clear that the Labour party would welcome the appointment of a royal commission if, as was alleged - and the allegations are repeated to-day - all of the facts were not before the House. It is our view, of course, that on the admitted facts there was a case to justify the assertion that the fund had been put to a wrong use. The position to-day is, that the Miners Federation feels that the honour of a number of its officials may be involved, that their trustworthiness and integrity are suspect, and they ask - I think quite properly - that a royal commission should be set up in order that, where there is guilt, it shall be established, and where there is no guilt there shall be clear exoneration of those whose names are being bandied about. Without elaborating the matter, I ask the Prime Minister to set up a royal commission to investigate and report upon all of the circumstances associated with expenditure from the fund established for a special purpose in February, 1940.
– by leave - The request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) is consistent with the offer that I made yesterday on behalf of the Government, to set up a royal commission to conduct an investigation of this matter; consequently, the Government has no hesitation in agreeing to that course. I shall be pleased to discuss with the Leader of the Opposition the terms of reference to the royal commission.
-Will the Prime Minister, before appointing a royal commission to inquire into disbursements from the secret intelligence fund, submit to the House the terms of reference under which the commission is to work?
– The honorable member’s requestwill receive the consideration of the Government.
- by leaveProbably every honorable member has read in the press that the miners have taken up the attitude that if this matter is not expeditiously dealt with they will bring about a general stoppage of work throughout Australia, because so many of their officials are at present under suspicion. That suspicion has been fastenedupon them by the references of the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) to an alleged interview between him and Mr. Nelson and some mysterious and unidentified third person. When officials of the Miners Federation interviewed the Attorney-General last week on this matter the right honorable gentleman mentioned the third person by name. A. member of the deputation said to the Minister : “ Take a good look at me and say whether you have ever seen me before “ ; the Attorney-General replied, “ I am not sure; I am doubtful”. The man then said to him, “Well, I am the man whom you mentioned “. I should like the Government to state, before the House adjourns this week, who is to be appointed to the royal commission, and what are to be the terms of reference. Those terms should be broad. We do not want any “ whi te-washing” of the Government in connexion with the charges brought by honorable members on this side of the House. Last night I advocated the appointment of a royal commission, but if the Government is going to delay the investigation, or allow it to be unduly protracted, I fear that there will be grave industrial unrest involving, not only the miners, but also members of other unions, because it is alleged that moneys were paid by the Australian Democratic Front to union officials other than those of the Miners Federation.
-Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the terms of reference of the royal commission will be sufficiently wide to cover an investigation of the circumstances which led up to the disclosure of the information placed before the Leader of the Opposition, and particularly of the activities of Mr. Winkler, and the telephone conversations he had with various persons?
– As I said to the Leader of the Opposition, the terms of reference will be consistent with the request which’ he made as a result of the offer made by the Government yesterday, and will be submitted to him for consideration.
– Has a decision yet been made for the arrest of Mr. Joseph Winkler, or for the laying of a charge against him under the Official Secrets Act or any other Commonwealth law?
– The matter is receiving attention.
– In view of the refusal of the Government to furnish to Parliament during the discussion of the operations of the secret fund all papers and documents relating to the matter for fear of what they might disclose and whom they might involve, will the Prime Minister give to the House a guarantee that all such documents will be made available to the royal commission when it is making inquiries? Will he also assure the House that the sittings of the royal commission will be open to the public, and that none of the proceedings will be heard in camera, in order that the public will be fully aware of what has happened regarding the operations of this “ graft “ fund.
– I am yet to be convinced that the Government withheld from the House any document, any statement, or any fact regarding this matter. I have already stated on two occasions that the Government will discuss with the Leader of the Opposition the terms of reference of the royal commission.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether I correctly understood the Attorney-General to have said that no action can be taken against Winkler until the Leader of the Opposition has laid a charge? Does the Leader of the Opposition subscribe to that view?
– The impossibility of my being able to say whether the honorable member correctly understood the Attorney-General must he obvious.
– Will the Prime Minister make the terms of reference of the commission sufficiently wide to include an inquiry into the allegation that the budget, not yet presented to this Parliament, has already been shown to a number of persons who are not entitled to see it?
– In order to answer that question I should have to know from the honorable member definitely who has made that allegation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, when inquiries were being made into the leakage -of confidential Government information, any checks were made of the telephone calls made by Mr. J. Winkler, ex-assistant publicity officer of the Prime Minister’s Department. If so, will he furnish the names of the persons to whom the calls were made, and has the Government any knowledge as to the matters that were discussed during those conversations? Did they have any reference to disbursements from the secret fund, or did they refer to matters connected with the budget? Further, is it a fact that one of the telephone calls made was to a Mr. Ricketson, who is connected with the stock broking firm of J. B. Were and Company, of which the former Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was at one time a director, and during the course of this conversation did Winkler say to Ricketson that he-
– Order ! The honorable member is giving information, not asking a question.
– I am asking whether this took place.
– The honorable member must be reasonably brief.
– In the course of this conversation, did Winkler indicate that he had interviewed certain people and that the views that they had expressed
-Order ! This is in the nature of comment. The honorable member must know that questions in such form are not permissible.
– No doubt the honorable member will be afforded every facility to appear as a witness and give evidence before the royal commission.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the terms of reference to the royal commission will be sufficiently wide to comply with the public demand that inquiries shall ‘be made into the motives for Winkler’s treachery, and also into the reason which actuated Winkler in attempting seriously to damage the personal prestige of the honorable gentleman, and bring about the fall of his Government?
– I am sure that the royal commission, and every one else, including myself, would be glad to ascertain the motives of Mr. Winkler.
– I hope that the terms of reference will be wide enough to enable the royal commission to make such an inquiry.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry whether it is a fact, as has been reported in the daily press, that war prisoners arc to be employed upon afforestation, as a useful form of occupation? If so, has the honorable gentleman any plans concerning the States in which these men arc to be employed, and can he say whether Tasmania is to share in the enterprise?
– My attention was drawn last week to a statement in a Melbourne newspaper to the effect that a report was being prepared for me dealing with the employment of war prisoners upon afforestation and water conservation. I have only to say that such a report is not being prepared for me, and that I have no knowledge of the matter.
Motion (by Mr. Collets) - by leave - agreed to -
That the time for bringing up the report from the Joint Committee on Wireless Broadcasting, appointed on the 3rd July, 1.941, be extended for three months from the 3rd October, 1941.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee a report upon its investigation of conditions in Queensland? As the report of the committee upon evidence taken in that State is vital to its future wellbeing, when will the Government give consideration to it and make it available to honorable members?
– As a fellow Queenslander, I am just as enthusiastic as is the honorable member concerning the welfare of Queensland; consequently, immediately the report was received within the last 48 hours it was sent to the appropriate authority for perusal and comment.
– The first two reports submitted by the Man-power Resources and Survey Committee have become the subject of reports to the Government by departmental officers, and these comments were sent to members of the committee marked “ Secret “. Is it the intention of the Minister for Defence Co-ordination to rc-assemble the members of the original Man-power and Resources Survey Committee who made the reports in order to discuss with them the submissions of the departmental officers upon which the Government is expected to act? Alternatively, is he prepared to place both reports before Parliament in order that they may be debated ?
– The second part of the honorable member’s question involves a matter which only Cabinet can decide. As to the first part, I point out that two members of the original committee are now in the Cabinet, and my own jurisdiction over them has ceased.
– The statement has been made by the. Prime Minister that the report of the Commonwealth Man-power and Resources Survey Committee on Queensland, which has been received during the last 48 hours, will be dealt with promptly. Some months ago, the committee submitted reports dealing with New South Wales and Victoria. Has the Prime Minister seen those reports? If he has, does he propose to adopt the recommendations contained therein? Will he lay the reports on the table of the House?
– Various features of the reports which have been submitted by the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee have been, examined, and the Government is now giving consideration to them. The reports will not be laid upon the table of the House because they were made, not to Parliament, but to the Government.
Recruiting - Right of Volunteers to Choose Units - Pay Abroad and at Darwin - Mails for Troops.
– In view of statements published in to-day’s newspapers, can. the Minister for the Army furnish particulars of the present position of recruiting for the Australian Imperial Force generally?
– The Government has not given details of actual figures in relation to recruitment over recent weeks; but I am able to say that, whilst I should like many more recruits to come forward, the present flow is sufficient to meet exi sting commitments.
Mr.BREEN. - Can the Minister for the Army inform the House whether the lack of recruitsfor the Australian Imperial Force in country districts is due to the greatly depleted, or completely vanished, reservoir of man-power in those areas? If this be so, will the honorable gentleman consider declaring the wheat belt of New South Wales exempt from the operation of compulsory military training until the new year; alternatively, will he consider establishing universal training camps in rural areas?
– As to the first part of the question I do not believe that the lack of recruits for the Australian Imperial Force is due to the reason suggested. As to the second part, I shall not give consideration to declaring the wheat belts exempt from compulsory military training. I should like the honorable member to place the third part of his question on the notice-paper.
– Is the Minister for the Army in possession of any information which would indicate that the lag of enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force from the larger towns in the wheatgrowing areas is occasioned by the fact that the residents of those districts have swallowed subversive doctrines for many years, whilst many honorable members have done nothing to counteract this propaganda?
– I have no doubt whatever that the spreading of subversive propaganda has had some effect on recruiting. Precisely what that effect has been I am not able to determine.
Mr.BLAIN.- Will the Minister for the Army take steps to end the present unrest of intending volunteers for overseas service among the Militia and. compulsory trainees and civilians by giving directions that arrangements be made to enable volunteers who wish to join units of which their friends or relatives are members, to do so? I make my request particularly on behalf of intending volunteers at Darwin, from two of whom I have received the following telegram : -
Can youguarantee six enlistments overseas with Darwin crowdabroad with 2/3 rd regi- ment.
– Much as one may desire to comply with the honorable member’s request, it is not so simple to do so as the honorable member may think.
– I know that it is not simple.
– I have endeavoured at different times to assist men to join their comrades, but to establish a definite rule which would enable men to join any particular unit that they may nominate, would, I think, be impracticable.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether, as a matter of general interest, he will discuss the methods that are employed to ensure that men going on active service are drafted into the units which they want to join ?
– If the honorable member suggests a general debate, the answer is “ No but if he asks the question merely as a matter of interest, the answer is “ Yes “. On a number of occasions men have communicated to me their desire to join relatives and comrades in specific units. On such occasions, I have made inquiries in order to ascertain to what extent the requests could be met. with the result that I have sometimes been able to satisfy the men’s desires.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware of the widespread dissatisfaction with the, delay and non-delivery of cables, parcels and letters to members of the Australian Imperial Force and Royal Australian Air Force abroad? Does the responsibility rest with the Censor’s Department or is the delay caused through lack of adequate postal staff?
– There are certain reasons for this delay, which takes place usually when the mails leave Australian shores; but I shall make inquiries and direct a further reply to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether, in view of press reports that the Government proposes to increase the pay of members of the Australian Imperial Force, he will recommend that the new rate be Ss. a day of which 4s. shall be deferred? If this Tate cannot be agreed to will the honorable gentleman consider the granting of an increase of pay to members serving in the Australian Imperial Force in the Northern Territory in order to compensate them for the inordinate increase of the cost of living in their own country?
– It would be appropriate for the honorable member to await information on this subject until the introduction of the budget.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions whether a report has been received from the technical officers who visited country towns in Victoria in order to inspect facilities in those towns for the production of war materials?
– I do not know whether such a report has been received, but I shall have the question brought to the notice of the Minister for Munitions.
Reserved Occupations - Method of Selection fob Duration.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether it is true, as was reported in to-day’s press, that onethird of the number of men who enlist are prevented from serving in the Australian Imperial Force because they are in what are known as reserved occupations ?
– My recollection is that the newspaper reports stated that one-third of the number of men called up for military training in Australia were to be exempted - not only those who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. That, I think, is approximately correct. The number of exemptions granted in respect of those engaged in rural industries is large. In one particular instance, of 140 men called up, over 100 were exempted because they were engaged in the dairying industry, and could make out a special case.
– If it be true that in some cases compulsory military trainees have been selected to remain in camp for the duration of the war by having their names picked out of a hat, does the Minister for the Army think that that system of selection is more judicious than an inquiry into the affairs of the trainees in order to choose those who, from the point of view of hardship, are best able to remain in camp?
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) drew my attention to two or three instances of men being selected for training for the duration of the war by the method of having their names drawn from a hat. and I gave immediate instructions that the practice was to be discontinued. Although there are objections to balloting there would be equal objections to a selection method which would mean that certain men would be released and others retained.
– Is the Minister for the Army awa.re of the persistent practice, in a number of the compulsory military training camps, of officers in charge intimating to certain selected persons that they will be required to remain in camp continuously, in some cases for the duration of the war? If the honorable gentleman is aware of this practice, does he approve of it. and is it sanctioned by law?
– The call up of 25 per cent, of the Australian Militia Force for continuous duty is sanctioned by the provisions of the Defence Act. The question as to how these men should be chosen, whether by ballot or by selection, was answered by me earlier in reply to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear). The selections must be made by the officers, who are given directions by a higher command, because they are acquainted with the qualifications of the men under their command.
– I have received a complaint from Brisbane merchants and manufacturers to the effect, that they are not able to fill Darwin orders because they cannot get space on ships trading between Brisbane and Darwin. The matter has been brought under the notice of the Shipping Control Board in Melbourne. Is the Minister for Transport aware of these difficulties? If he is not, will he make inquiries with a view to restoring to Brisbane traders a legitimate share of the available space?
– I am fully aware of the difficulties being experienced in regard to shipping on the Australian coast generally. Those difficulties are not confined to the port of Brisbane. At the present time, shipping is under the control of the Shipping Board, and priority is given to cargoes according to the need for those cargoes at the point of destination. I shall look into the matter raised by the honorable member and. see what can be done.
– Has the Minister made any arrangements to meet the transport requirements of residents of the south coast of New South Wales, seeing that so many ships have been commondeered for defence purposes, and that road transport has been interfered with because of petrol rationing?
– The matter mentioned by the honorable member has been under constant consideration by the Government, but the obstacles have not yet been removed. We are trying to procure ships from every likely source, and everything possible will be done by the Government to ensure that ample shipping services shall be maintained.
– Last week I asked a question of the Postmaster-General on the subject of the excessive fines imposed on residents of the northern districts of New South Wales for failing to take out wireless listeners’ licences. Has the PostmasterGeneral had those cases investigated ? Is it the policy of his department to ask for very heavy fines for breaches of the regulations?
– This matter has been brought under my notice by other honorable members, including the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Abbott). The fines were imposed by a magistrate on persons charged with using wireless sets without holding licences. It is not the policy, neither is it the desire, of the Postmaster-General’s Department to intrude harshness into any of its activities, but it is the duty of the department to seek out those persons who illegally use wireless sets, and refuse to purchase licences. When people are found to be indulging in this illegal practice, the State magistrate, who hears the case, imposes a fine in accordance with what he considers to be the seriousness of the offence. People who have not purchased a listener’s licence have no more right to use a wireless set than they have to travel in a train without a ticket. They are committing a breach of the law, and it is the duty of the Government to check up on them. Honorable members who receive complaints from rheir constituents about the harshness of fines imposed upon them should take the matter direct to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, who will deal with each case on its merits.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Army been directed to a report in the Sydney Truth last Sunday to the effect that the members of the Fixed Defences Command have no badges or marks to distinguish them from compulsory trainees and are not entitled to receive deferred pay? If those statements be correct, will the Minister consider the advisability of granting to those members, many of w hom are not permitted to go abroad with the Australian Imperial Force, the same privileges as are extended to members of the services who are despatched o verseas ?
– I do not recollect that my attention has been drawn to the article, but I shall peruse it and determine what consideration it merits.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce give consideration to the payment of outofpocketexpenses to those public-spirited farmers who are acting in an advisory capacity in policing the wheat stabilization plan at country centres?
– I shall investigate the matter and on the reports which I receive, shall give consideration to the question asked by the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the following news item which appeared in the Cairns Post on the 19th September : -
FRUIT AND WINE.
Only Accumulated Stocks.
Canberra, 18th September.
After two years of war, Australian primary industries at presentare in the unexpectedly favourable position of having practically no accumulated surplus of stocks of which export had been prevented by the shipping shortage.
The position of primary industrieshas been greatly strengthened in the last few months by an improvement in the shipping position, with the result that at present the only accumulated surpluses awaiting shipment are fresh fruit and wine.
Is the Prime Minister aware that large quantities of sugar also await export?
– Whilst I have no knowledge of the news item which the honorable member read, I am fully aware of an accumulation of sugar awaiting export. The Minister for Commerce, who recently visited Queensland, conferred with the Sugar Board regarding the matter, and the Commonwealth Government has made available certain funds as a contribution towards the cost of storing the sugar.
– I lay upon the table the following paper : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Third Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for year 1940-41, together with statement by Minister regarding operation of Act.
With the concurrence of honorable members, I suggest that, in order to conserve stocks of paper, the report should not be printed this year as a parliamentary paper. This is the report not of the present Apple and Pear Acquisition Board, but of the original Apple and Pear Board, which is now virtually defunct. The latter body dealt with the export trade, and its functions have ceased since the outbreak of war
– Will the PostmasterGeneral use some of the profits which are made by his department, to expand existing telephone services or to institute new services in rural areas where petrol rationing has considerably curtailed transport?
– I shall give consideration to the matter.
– In anticipation of the flotation of a loan or loans at an early date, I ask the Treasurer whether he will reconsider the claims of suburban and other small newspapers to participate in the advertising of those loans. Some of those newspapers are more intimately in touch with the people than the larger metropolitan newspapers, and they have claims to participate in the advertising of loans, not only on their individual merits but also because they are good advertising mediums.
– That matter has received consideration with such effect that a conference with country and provincial newspaper proprietors was recently held, at which an arrangement was arrived at whereby a more liberal quota of all government advertising will be given to those journals.
-My question was not limited to country newspapers.
– I do not confine my answer to country newspapers.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the report that the High Court yesterday remitted back to the AttorneyGeneral the charge made by him against Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited with instructions that it be put in order? Will the Prime Minister have the AttorneyGeneral prepare a statement for the next sitting of Parliament, which will give honorable members information as to just what is wrong with the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in matters of law?
– I have not seen the report, but I shall bring that matter to the notice of the Attorney-General.
– In view of the virtual impossibility of obtaining labour in the rural districts, will the Acting Minister for Commerce consider the desirability of cancelling the provision of the wheat acquisition scheme compelling wheat-growers to cut crops for hay this year ?
– As a man from the bush, I am acutely conscious of the shortage of labour in rural areas. I shall give earnest consideration to the request.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he or a responsible officer of his department has yet taken action to prevent the further pollution of George’s River by drainage and refuse from the Liverpool Military Camp? This matter has been before the Minister for three or four months, and with summer drawing near immediate action is necessary in order to prevent something which is now a nuisance developing into a menace to health.
– The honorable member is incorrect when he says that I have had this matter before me for three or four months.
– The Minister has signed letters dealing with the matter.
– In general terms I have known of this matter before, but the details were not brought to my notice until last week, when I gave instructions that the work must immediately be authorized.
– In view of the hardship suffered as the result of petrol rationing by persons whose means of livelihood are dependent on their motor trucks, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development; cause instructions to be issued to the State Liquid Fuel Control Boards that truck owners engaged in essential industries are to receive a more liberal petrol allowance? Will the Minister also cause inquiries to be made as to whether the large numbers of motor vehicles to be seen at golf courses and beaches at the week-ends are not using petrol for pleasure purposes?
– I can only promise to bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Development.
– Is the Minister for Transport aware that the office in Sydney which controls the matter of petrol supplies makes, in respect of all representations for an increased quota, a stock reply in which it “passes the buck” to the Commonwealth authority? Has the Commonwealth in view or in operation a. scheme for the zoning of the
State of New South Wales, and the issue of a varying ration according to other transport facilities available, particularly in the far south coastal districts, which are not served by rail transport and at present have no shipping facilities?
– A scheme of the character mentioned has already been put in operation on the far south coast. Lengthy journeys by motor transport from, I think. Nowra to distant points on the south coast have been prohibited, goods for thatarea having to be sent by rail to the nearest point, which. I believe is on the Cooma line. The result of this is a very considerable saving of the use of petrol. Consideration is being given to the adoption of a similar course in other areas.
– Press reports indicate that steamer fares between Tasmania and the mainland have been revised. Is the Minister for Transport aware of any such revision, and, if so, do any increases approved by the Prices Commissioner apply only to second-class fares? Does the honorable gentleman consider that increases should be imposed only on those people who are compelled by circumstances to travel second-class?
– I am not familiar with the matter, but I shall have the facts investigated.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the majority of flour mills in the country districts of New South Wales have been closed down, that some of those which are in operation are working only one shift, and that others have orders only sufficient to maintain work for one month? In view of the urgent necessity for providing maximum employment in country districts, will he take steps to provide for the greatest possible use of flour mills in all parts of New South Wales?
– I shall give consideration to the representations of the honorable member and furnish a reply to him.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether the situation in the Pacific area is still of the utmost gravity, or whether it has improved in recent times. Will the honorable gentleman make a statement to the House on the subject forthwith or, at, the latest, next week?
– As I indicated recently, the state of affairs in the Pacific area can only be regarded as being still of sustained tension. I shall make a statement on the subject during next week’s sittings.
– Is the Minister for Transport aware of the acute shortage of coal reserves in Victoria ? Can he say whether this is due to the fact that an unusually large proportion of the coal produced is being held in reserve in New South Wales ? If so, and having in mind the shortage of shipping, and the failure of the Government to attempt to overcome the difficulties caused by the break of railway gauge between Victoria and New South Wales, will the honorable gentleman make some effective provision toensure that Victoria receives its fair proportion of the coal produced?
– I am aware of the coal shortage in Victoria. There is also an acute shortage in South Australia. The position has not been caused by the retention of undue supplies to strengthen reserves in New South Wales for the reserves in that State are much smaller than they should be, having in mind the security of the country. The difficulties have arisen through the dislocation of the coal-mining industry and the consequent non-production of coal. That is the reason for the shortage of coal in Melbourne at present. We are hoping that the position will be rectified in consequence of the cessation of the strike in the South Maitland railway area. Unfortunately it will take some time to correct the acute shortage owing to difficulties in relation to shipping and to the handling of heavy parcels of coal on the railway system.
– Standardize the railway gauges and the difficulties will be greatly minimized.
– In view of the serious shipping shortage on the Australian coast I ask the Minister for Transport whether the Government will consider providing financialassistance for the building of wooden ships? If such action had been taken when I made my first inquiry on the subject, several ships would have been launched by now.
– There is no necessity for the Government to provide additional financial assistance for the building of wooden ships, for private enterprise already has ample opportunity to supply that need. The difficulties relate, not to the building of hulls for wooden ships, for that is a simple problem, but to the provision of engines and other equipment to service the ships.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House what amount of money, if any, has been made available by the Commonwealth Government to assist, to finance the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in its operations at Lidcombe? If any money has been made available for this purpose, will the honorable gentleman intimate the terms applicable thereto?
– If my memory serves me correctly, a similar question has already been answered.
Messages reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ending the 30th June, 1942, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply.
– It is my responsibility to present to honorable members the public accounts for the second year of the war, and to submit the Government’s plans for financing an ever-expanding war effort. This year, war finance must dominate our financial policy more than ever. It is hardly necessary for me to remind honorable members that the real costs of war have to be met by the mobilization of our man-power and resources, and by the united efforts of all of us to supply our fighting forces with food, equipment, and munitions. This remains the central problem, whatever financial policy we adopt. Accordingly, the Government has framed its policy in order to expedite this mobilization of resources. The limits to our war effort are set by the supply of labour, materials and equipment at our disposal, and by our willingness to divert these resources, where required, to war needs.
Financial policy, as I see it, should aim, so far as is possible by financial means -
It is in the light of these principles that I ask honorable members to examine and judge the Government’s plans.
Before dealing with the details of the budget for 1941-42, I shall review very briefly the results of the year 1940-41.
The revenue account for last year showed an exact balance, because the whole of the receipts, after meeting ordinary expenditure, were applied to war purposes. The amount so applied was £65,091,000, an increase of £3,106,000 over the budget estimate. This increase was due partly to revenue being greater than was expected, and partly to savings of non-war expenditure.
On the revenue side, the budget proposals provided for increases of taxation, amounting to £29,350.000. With these increases total revenue from taxation was estimated at £124,575,000. Actual collections were £125,384.000. Income tax yielded £39,315,000, or £1,815,000 above the estimate. Customs and excise revenue showed an increase of £780,000 over the estimate. On the other hand war-time company tax and super tax yielded£1,010,000 less than had been anticipated. The collections from sales tax and estate duties also fell short of the estimates. The total revenue from all sources amounted to £150,482,000.
On the expenditure side, the cost of non-war services amounted to £85,391,000, or £947,000 less than the estimate.
Details of actual revenue and expenditure are given in table 1.
When the budget was brought down, it was estimated that the war expenditure from all sources would reach £186,000,000, viz., £143,000,000 in Australia and £43,000,000 overseas. The actual net expenditure proved to be £170,000,000, of which £127,000.000 was in Australia and £43,000,000overseas. This was £16,000,000 below the budget estimate. The actual gross expenditure, however, was £181,000,000. the extra £11,000,000 representing expenditure on work and supplies from Australia for other governments which was recovered during the year. In financing this war expenditure, we were fortunate to commence the year with a cash balance of £28,000,000. Revenue provided £65,000,000 andthe balance of £77,000,000 came from loans raised during the course of the year; £15,000,000 was borrowed from the British Government, and approximately £62,000,000 came from loans raised in Australia.
War finance has substantially affected the debt position during the last year. Two public loans were raised in Australia during the year, aggregating £64,000,000. Of this sum, about £48,000,000 was applied to war purposes and the balance of £16,000,000 to Loan Council programmes.
In order to encourage people to invest in Commonwealth loans, and to provide a means for subscription during the time when loans are not open, a system of advance subscriptions to loans was inaugurated in March, 1941. This arrangement has been very successful.
The support of war savings certificates continued throughout the year, particularly from war savings groups in factories, shops and offices. Certificates to a face value of £15,318,000 were taken up, bringing the total since the inception of the scheme to approximately £23,000,000. Further interest-free loans and gifts were also received, bringing the totals to the end of June from these two sources to £5,515,000 and £997,000 respectively.
Two large conversion operations were successfully carried out in London during the year. A loan of the States for £13,470,000, due on the 1st October, 1941, was the subject of a short-term conversion offer at 3 per cent. About two-thirds of the loan was converted, and the balance was paid off by the sinking fund with assistance from the Commonwealth Bank. This paved the way for a larger operation to convert optional loans of £30,000,000, representing debt of the Commonwealth and the States, carrying interest at 4¾ per cent. and 5 per cent, per annum. The new securities were issued at. £99, with an interest rate of 3½ per cent.; thus, the conversion will result in a saving of interest to the governments concerned of £434,000 per annum. No new cash was accepted; and the Government is grateful for temporary assistance provided by the British Government, which enabled the Commonwealth Bank to take up £6,500,000. worth of stock not converted.
The statutory contributions from revenue for the redemption of debt by the Commonwealth and the States are being carried outon anincreasing scale. Last year £12,898,000 was provided, and in the current year it is expected that £14,000,000 will be available for these services.
The aggregate debt of the Commonwealth and the States at the 30th June, 1941, reached £1,426,000,000, being £510,000,000 for the Commonwealth and £916,000,000 for the States. The increase during the year was £85,200,000, namely: Commonwealth £74,900,000, and States £10,300,000.
I turn now to the estimates of revenue for 1941-42. On the basis of present rates of taxation, it is estimated that the total revenue from all sources will reach £163,227,000, compared with actual revenue last year of £150,482,000, an increase of almost £13,000,000. A substantial part of this increase is explained by a new item, “ pay-roll tax “, which was imposed to meet a portion of the cost of child endowment. This tax is estimated to yield £8,000,000.
In other items, allowance has been made for a full year’s collections in respect of taxes which were introduced with the Budget last November. Income tax and war-time company tax are expected to yield £49,050,000, or an increase of £5,745,000. Substantial increases are also expected from excise and sales tax. On the other side of the picture, a sharp decline of £9,000,000 is expected in customs revenue, due partly to restrictions we have imposed on non-essential imports and partly to difficulties of supply and shipping.
Details of the estimated revenue are given in table 3.
Last year, the actual expenditure on all services other than war, amounted to £85,391,000. This year, the estimate is £102,306,000, an increase of £16,915,000.
This increase is predominantly due to the Commonwealth child endowment scheme, which commenced on the 1st July last, and is expected to cost £13,000,000.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
Invalid and old-age pensions are expected to cost £1,384,000 more in the current year than in 1940-41. The increased cost is mainly due to the liberalization of pensions announced in the last Budget, by which a general increase of 2s. per fortnight was granted in December, 1940, followed by a further increase of1s. per fortnight in April, 1941, because of an increase in the index of retail prices.
The Government has now decided that in the payment of invalid pensions, £2 10s. instead of £1 10s. per week shall be considered adequate maintenance for each parent and adult dependant of a family of which a claimant for an invalid person is a member ; each child under sixteen years being taken as equivalent to half an adult. This accounts for an additional expenditure of £50,000.
Owing to shipping difficulties, the United Kingdom has been obliged to reduce substantially contracts for the purchase of Australian foodstuffs. This has created the need for drastic reorganization of many of our export industries. The commodities chiefly affected are meat, dairy produceand eggs. Details of the Government’s reorganization schemes will be given to the House by my colleague, the Acting Minister for Commerce, but it is worthy of note here that the budget provides for substantial expenditure by the Government for the expansion of cold storage, for the re-equipment of factories to change over from the production of butter to that of cheese, and for the drying of eggs. These plans will involve the Government in expenditure, largely of a capital nature, exceeding £500,000 in 1941-42.
Provision is made also for an estimated loss of £1,400,000 arising out of the apple and pear acquisition scheme. An amount of £750,000 is provided for the estimated cost of a subsidy to rural producers in the form of a reduction of the price of superphosphate.
TheRoyal Commission on Banking drew attention to a deficiency in our financial structure inthe lack of facilities for long-term borrowing. In 1938, a bill was introduced into the House to set up a Mortgage Banking Department of the Commonwealth Bank. The passage of the bill was delayed while the Government endeavoured to meet representations by certain State Government instrumentalitieswhich were themselves providing loans on mortgages. Before these negotiations were completed, the urgent and pressing problems of war administration fully occupied the Government’s attention.
The Government is, however, conscious that the problems created for rural producers by the war have increased the need for action to be taken to provide facilities for long-term borrowing. The Government proposes, therefore, to introduce, as soon as practicable, legislation to establish a mortgage bank. Although State instrumentalities are already operating in this field, the Government believes that the existence of supplemental and coordinating Commonwealth authority will give added strength to existing State in- stitutions. The development of the mortgage bank will be of a progressive character, and the extent of its development will depend to a considerable degree on war requirements being first satisfied.
The Government believes that the mortgage bank will be a valuable addition to the finance facilities of rural industry, and that, when firmly established, it will provide adequatelong-term credit to sound borrowers at reasonable rates of interest.
Special grants to certain States will be made in accordance with the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which has been adopted by the Government, and has been tabled for the information of members.
The payments recommended compare with those for the previous year thus: -
In respect of the grant to South Australia, however, the commission has recommended that, in addition to the amount of £1,150,000, a sum of £250,000 which, in normal circumstances, would have been included in the grant, should be held over until 1942-43, because of the present improved economic position of chat State and a probable reduction of the normal grant next year.
The Government will bring down legislation shortly to give effect to the recommendations of the Grants Commission.
The remaining items of expenditure show a net increase of £680,000. Details are given in Table No. 2.
In 1941-42, the Government plans to spend from all sources £24,000,000 on defence works, compared with an actual expenditure of £18,100,000 in 1940-41. The Loan Council borrowing, including semi-government and local government, was reduced from £24,000,000 in 1940-41 to a programme of £20,000,000 for 1941-42. The carrying out of the works for both defence and civil purposes pro vided for in this programme will place a serious strain upon the resources available, which have already been depleted by enlistments and transfers to other war work.
Reducing civil works expenditure is one of the easiest forms of diversion of resources to war as it makes no cut in civil consumption. Now that public works are not required to maintain employment, loan expenditure should be limited to works that are of defence value or are immediately and urgently necessary for civil purposes. The reduction that has been brought about by the Loan Council decision is a step in this direction. Special consideration was, however, given to the position of States in which war expenditure was relatively small.
In spite of this reduction, total expenditure on public works will still exceed that of last year and will be considerably higher than in pre-war years. In 1941-42 the estimated expenditure onWorks, Defence and Loan Council, including semi-government and local government, is £46,000,000, compared with an actual expenditure of £45,000,000 in 1940-41, and of £36,000,000 in the last pre-war year.
Our war programme now requires both increasing resources and additional finance. In order to carry out this programme it will be necessary to keep civil works to a minimum, and this will require the full co-operation of State Governments and semi-governmental authorities.
I now come to the crux of the budget our war proposals, and the manner in which they will be financed.
Our war programme has so expanded that in the present year it will be almost double what it was in 1940-41. The full increase will not be reflected in the amount which we have to finance, because we expect to receive substantial assistance from the United States of America under the Lease-Lend Act in the form of essential war equipment which could not be produced in Australia or obtained elsewhere. Despite this assistance, the total cost of war expenditure to be budgeted for is estimated at £217,000,000, compared with £170,000,000 last year.
Heavy expenditure must be incurred in the maintenance of our fighting forces both overseas and in Australia. We must equip and maintain additional forces now being raised. Munitions factories and annexes are now producing on a large scale, and a steadily rising flow of arms, ammunition, equipment and supplies is reaching all Services. In addition, extensive programmes of naval construction and aircraft production are in progress. These features illustrate the all-round expansion which has taken place in all phases of war activity.
I am satisfied that’ the estimate of £217,000,000 is conservative. The original estimates submitted by the Departments have been substantially reduced to avoid any risk of overstatement, and it may well be found necessary during the year to provide additional finance.
In presenting the war estimates this year we have consolidated all defence and war votes in one group, which will be found in the ordinary estimates of expenditure, page 40. The subdivision as between revenue and loan is confined to totals only. This arrangement will present a clearer picture than last year, when the detailed votes were subdivided between ordinary and loan estimates.
The estimated expenditure in Australia to be budgeted for is £160,000,000.
At this point it is appropriate to announce that the Government has recently reviewed the rates of pay of members of the forces, and certain increases involving an annual cost of about £6,000,000, including deferred pay, have been decided upon. Details are as follows : -
Deferred Pay. - It has been decided to increase the pay of members of the following forces by1s. a day, which will be credited as deferred pay and will accrue as from the date of this announcement : -
Australian Imperial Force overseas.
Australian Imperial Force in Australia with less than six months’ service.
Royal Australian Navy (Sea-going). Royal Australian Air Force on special force rates of pay.
Home Defence Military Forces on special force rates of pay called up or enlisted for continuous duty, who have completed six months’ service.
Members of the Royal Australian Air Force who embark for overseas will be credited with an additional1s. a day deferred pay for any period of service in Australia in excess of six months. This will give them equality with the Australian Imperial Force.
Members of the Royal Australian Air Force and Home Defence Military Forces on special force rates of pay, serving at an operational station such as Darwin will receive a special credit to bring their total deferred pay rate to 2s. a day for the period of service there. Members of the Australian Imperial Force already receive this credit.
The effect of this decision may be illustrated in the case of the Australian Imperial Force. A member in Australia with less than six months’ service will receive1s. a day deferred pay; on completion of six months’ service in Australia, or on transfer to an operational station, a member will receive 2s. a day, and when serving overseas, 3s. a day.
Domestic Allowance. - Last year a domestic allowance of 7s. a week was granted to married men with one or more children. In addition, the allowance in respect of each child was increased from 1s. to1s. 6d. a day. Married men without children received no additional benefits. It has now been decided to grant an additional allowance of 3s. 6d. a week to married members of the forces without children. This will be payable to the wife, and will increase her allowance to 24s. 6d. a week. It. will apply to members of the Australian Imperial Force,Royal Australian Navy (Seagoing), andRoyal Australian Air Force and Home Defence Military Forces on special force rates of pay. and will take effect from the commencement of the next allotment period. non-service war expenditure.
In addition to heavy expenditure in Australia on the maintenance and equipment of our fighting forces, there are items of expenditure in many fields only indirectly connected with war production in the narrow sense. The following are items of this kind : -
To meet the special needs of munitions workers, the Government has already engaged in extensive building operations. It has now set up a housing trust to carry out this work in the future. Advances will be made to State instrumentalities, but where necessary the Government will continue to undertake building on its’ own account, using existing instrumentalities as construction agents wherever possible.
Work is in progress on a comprehensive programme of merchant shipbuilding. This will involve the Government in expenditure of £1,000,000 on buildings, plant and equipment, and of £1,700,000 on construction.
The Government is pressing on with comprehensive plans for reducing Australia’s dependence upon imported petrol. These plans provide for the development of local oil resources, the establishment of extensive power alcohol distilleries, and the stimulation of the use of producer gas. Total outlay on these activities in the form of direct expenditure and of assistance to private companies for developmental work will possibly reach £800,000 in 1941-42.
The Government will expend more than £300,000 this year on buildings, plant and machinery in the establishment of flax mills in order to deal with the greatly expanded flax crop which is being produced this year to meet the United Kingdom requirements. work fob other governments.
The estimate of £160,000,000 of expenditure does not convey a full picture of the total war work to he performed in Australia. We have undertaken to provide, a wide range of war materials, &c, for the United Kingdom, Empire and Allied Governments. The value of this work is estimated in round figures at £55,000,000. It is anticipated that £49,000,000 will be recovered during the year from the Governments concerned ; consequently no provision for this sum is necessary in the budget. The payment, however, does not reduce the physical strain on our resources. Thus a better picture of the demands on our productive war capacity is obtained by comparing our estimated gross expenditure in Australia of £209,000,000 with the actual expenditure last year of £136,000,000.
Overseas war expenditure is estimated at £57,000,000, compared with £43,000,000 in 1940-41.
This £57,000,000 of overseas expenditure requires finance, but for the most part it makes no call on Australian resources. The physical resources required are supplied by the United Kingdom. On the other hand, we are doing £55,000,000 worth of work for other Governments’, which does not require budget finance, but does make a call on our physical resources. The two amounts roughly balance, so that we are doing for Empire and Allied Governments about as much as the United Kingdom is doing for us.
The work done for other Governments, taken by itself, has the same effect as our internal war expenditure in decreasing the amount of goods available for civil use in Australia. We cannot, grumble on that account when we know that other peoples are bearing a similar and rather greater burden on our account. This applies in particular to the United Kingdom, where the burden of war is now falling much more heavily than it will in Australia, even with the increased effort we are going to make in the year before us.
Our capacity to finance our overseas war expenditure depends upon Australia possessing sufficient funds in London to provide the means of payment. Last year we were able to made a substantial contribution from Australian resources, but we still had to borrow £15,000,000 from the United Kingdom Government. We have given the United Kingdom Government an undertaking to meet as much of our overseas expenditure as the level of our London funds permits. Last year even after providing £28,000,000 for’ this purpose our London funds showed an appreciable increase. It is expected that in 1941-42, mainly because of the exports of goods to other governments, our
London funds will increase sufficiently to enable us to do without assistance from the United Kingdom Government.
Insofar as we meet overseas war expenditure from our own resources it will be necessary for the Government to raise the money in Australia to purchase the necessary exchange. The need to raise this money must, therefore, be taken into account in considering our financial problem as a whole.
At this point the financial problem that confronts us may be summarized thus-
In order to finance the war programme we have to find this sum. from sources other than existing taxation. Last year we financed £77,000,000 by loans, of which £62,000,000 came from loans raised in Australia and £15,000,000 from the British Government.
In November, 1939, the Acting Treasurer laid down the basis of the Government’s financial policy in these words: -
To those general principles the Government still adheres. Accordingly, I propose now to review the economic outlook for 1941-42 so that we may see clearly the nature of our problem.
The Government expects that the steady increase in the total level of economic activity will be maintained in 1941-42, and that this will be reflected in a further rise of the national income perhaps to £1,000 millions, compared with £925 millions in 1940-41 and £794 millions in the last pre-war year.
The Government recognizes that every effort should be made to mobilize all the available resources, so that this total can be pushed as high as the physical limits of our available labour, materials, and equipment permit. In the Department of Labour and National Service, and in the newly-established Department of War Organization of Industry, the Government has two departments which are actively co-operating to ensure that our resources shall be employed to the utmost. However effective their work, there is a limit to the total production which can be achieved, and the Government believes that our capacity will be strained to achieve the output required.
National income on the one side measures the total value of the production of goods and services in the country, including Government services and the services of the fighting forces valued at cost. On the other side, with certain qualifications, it measures the amount of money available to thecommunity for spending on consumption or capital goods. The community includes, of course, all governments, institutions and companies, and the spending includes spending on war.
This national income would normally have been spent by the community - by governments, companies and individuals - in satisfaction of civil needs. Last year, however, a considerable part, approximately 15 per cent., of the national production was used by the Government for war purposes. It was necessary, therefore, that the community should refrain from spending the same proportion of their total incomes so that it could be transferred to the Government. Our taxation plans provided for only a part of this transfer. The balance had to be effected by voluntary savings, namely, by the community willingly foregoing its use of resources. These savingsreachedthe Government through subscriptions to loans, war savings certificates, or indirectly through the banks.
In view of the large amount of resources which had to be quickly transferred to the war effort, it was necessary for the Government to take certain steps in order to ensure that resources of a suitable nature were released from civilian employment.
Public expenditure on non-war capital projects has been reduced, and, since October, 1939, private expenditure of a capital nature has been subject to direct Treasury control on the advice of the Capital Issues Board. During last year, a more stringent control has been exercised over the raising of new money for purposes not associated with the war and not urgently necessary for essential civil purposes. This control has been extended to building operations, hut all housing with the exception of purely luxury dwellings has continued to be free of restrictions.
During 1940-41 restrictions on imported non-essentials have been applied to a wider range of commodities, and the use of exchange for purposes other than imports has been further limited.
Because of the greatly increased savings for which these controls were partly responsible, we were able to raise from the public and the banking system without inflationary effects, loans totalling £86,000,000 for war and essential civil works, including State and semigovernmental works, compared with £75,000,000 in the previous year and £37,000,000 in the last pre-war year.
In 1941-42 the need for controls of the kinds which I have just outlined will be even greater. Of the total production represented Joy the estimate of £1,000,000,000 for the national income, more than 22 per cent, will be for war purposes. Furthermore, the increase of incomes this year will be due not only to war production but also to the substantial surplus of export income over civil imports. This surplus, like the war expenditure, helps to swell incomes received in Australia without increasing the amount of goods available for civilian spending. For both of these reasons, there will be an excess of incomes over the goods and services available for purchase by the public.
This year, the excess of incomes over available goods and services is very much greater than last year, and if this is not to lead to rising prices, the public must adjust in one way or another their spending to the supply of goods available for purchase. The Government rejects the inflationary method of reducing consumption by letting prices rise faster than incomes. This means that, the Government must contemplate- (a) further increases of taxation, (b) stronger appeals for private and public economy in all expenditure not necessary for the war, and (c) stiffening and extending the controls already instituted to reduce spending. This will provide the real saving to back greatly increased government, borrowing both from the public and from the banking system.
Before considering the matter of new financial measures, we should allow for what, on the basis of recent experience, might be got from the loan market. Last year, we raised a total of £86,000,000, of which about £60,000,000 was available for war. This total included a substantial amount from the banking system, which was justified by diversion of investments, rising total production, and increased savings. It is not necessary, at this stage, to estimate precisely what the market will yield this year, as we must return later to the problem of our borrowing. It is sufficient for the present to say that without further special measures, we should be able to borrow for war purposes not less than we did last year. This would reduce the amount, for which new financial measures must be taken, to about £94,000,000. Our immediate task is to decide what proportion of this amount should be raised by taxation.
In general, taxation is the simplest, most effective and most equitable way of both raising the necessary finance and making available the necessary resources. In the main, increased taxation leads to a reduction of private consumption -and this frees for war purposes the labour, material and equipment previously employed in the production of goods for consumption.
There are, however, limits to the use of taxation: (ft) With anything like £94,000,000 to find, the increase of taxation necessary to raise the whole amount, if imposed suddenly, would be very disturbing both to business and to the consumer. Even though the weight of the new taxation came in only gradually during the year, as with most income taxation, the mere imposition of it may be too severe a blow. The need to divert resources will become progressively greater during the year, and the pressure to reduce non-war spending should grow with it. (b) Moreover, the effect of taxation is to free resources in general. There will, however, be need for particular kinds of resources which will require diversion by special measures. A survey of our war programme and of our resources suggests that a large part of the diversion required will have to be done by special measures.
In the circumstances, the common-sense policy is to obtain by taxation a substantial part of the amount required, and to obtain the remainder by increased loans. In other words, it will be the responsibility of the Government so to manage the economy that, with resolute co-operation by the people, savings will be increased to the required extent.
The minimum amount to be raised by taxation, or by contributions having the same effect as taxation, 1 put at £32,000,000, or about one-third of the amount for which finance is not in sight. I should have liked to propose a larger proportion, because taxation is, as I have paid, the simplest and most effective way and can be made the most equitable way. This, however, is the minimum which I propose for immediate adoption. Unless our supplementary measures be fully effective and savings increase to the required extent, I shall have to propose further taxation before the year is out.
The total amount to be borrowed in Australia for war is therefore £122,000,000, compared with about £60,000,000 in 1940-41. The task of raising this sum is somewhat accentuated by the need to convert a loan of £70,000,000, whichfalls due on the 15th November next. A large part of this loan is made up of small holdings. The terms of the new loan have already been announced. Every bond-holder, no matter how small his holding, who converts to the new loan will help our war finance, and the Government looks forward to a splendid response from bondholders.
Turning back to the £122,000,000, it is clear that the borrowing of this huge sum can be brought about only by an intensive drive for savings. An important contribution can be made without any increase of savings by diversion from private investment to public investment for war purposes. Private investment has already come under a large measure of control. Similarly, public investment for civil purposes is being curtailed. Gradually, as the need for resources for war purposes becomes more urgent, this control will be extended and intensified. The result will be that we shall not have the new capital goods which we could normally expect, for example, new factories and buildings (other than those required for war), new roads, railways and new public amenities generally. But this loss will not affect our present consumption.
A further important contribution must, and I am sure will, be made by a greater determination to save. The necessities of war are day by day being more fully recognized, and it will be the task of the Government to promote this growing realization. Besides increased willingness to save, there will also be increased opportunity to save. This will come from the absence of many goods on which incomes are usually spent. The growing needs of war must reduce the supply of many civil goods. The Government has already placed restrictions upon imported non-essentials. There is little doubt that those restrictions will have to be extended, possibly into the field of home-produced goods. We must go without many comforts and conveniences, and this going without will give further opportunity for saving. The going-without is the hard thing, and that is inescapable. WhatI am asking of the people is that, when they do not spend on some classes of goods, let us say new. motor cars, they will, not use the money for additional spending on other classes of goods, but will really save it for the duration of the war.
People who co-operate with the Government by increasing savings will not have reduced incomes on that account. They will be placing a part of their incomes aside for expenditure in future years. The savings will be most useful if they go directly into War Savings Certificates and public loans. Not all, however, will flow into these channels. Some will take the form of deposits with Savings Banks or increased provision for insurance. Some will be employed to reduce existing indebtedness. This will be the method of many producers who will take the present opportunity to increase their equities in their factories or farms. Some savings will merely tend to be left as idle deposits with the trading banks. All these types of savings are valuable and represent an effective contribution to the needs of war finance.
When goods are short and incomes are relatively high, there will bedifficulties in controlling the prices and at the same time ensuring an equitable distribution of the goods in short supply. The Government is acutely conscious of these difficulties and for sometime has beengiving very anxious thought to the means of overcoming them. This is not the place for a discussion of these problems which are likely to confront us in the course of the coming year. I can only assure the Committee that the Government is fully alive to them and determined to overcome them.
Let me summarize the financial problem. The Government will borrow £122,000,000 to complete the provision for war expenditure. It will borrow this amount by public loans, by war savings certificates, and by loans from the banking system. It has a heavy responsibility to ensure that these loans shall be sufficiently balanced by real savings. A. considerable proportion of these loans must come from the banking system, because the banks will be the repositories of much of the savings that will be made, and of much of the money which can be diverted from other forms of investment. How far beyond that point we can borrow from the banks can be decided only by experience. I shall return later to the position of the trading banks in relation to the Commonwealth Bank and to the community.
The financial proposals may now be summarized thus : -
Indirect taxation in every form - customs, excise, sales tax - implies a rise of prices. I am very unwilling to impose any taxes that will raise prices. Our necessity may become so great that we cannot avoid them. At this stage, I believe we can. I propose then that, except for a moderate rise of postal charges, additional funds shall be raised by a direct contribution from incomes, in the form of either taxation or loan.
We need to reduce private spending and our aim should be to reduce the present spending power of every income by an amount appropriate to that income, varying according to our accepted principles from a very large proportion of high incomes to nothing on very low ones. There are, however, incomesor parts of incomes which it is impracticable or unwise to tax to the full appropriate amount. In such cases, we can reduce present spending power to the appropriate level by taking the required amount in the form of loan, repayable when the exigencies of war are past. Contributions should be, in whole or in part, loan rather than taxation in these instances -
Commonwealth or State. This class includes bond income and gold-mining income.
The following arrangement is therefore proposed: - (a.) A national contribution is assessed on every income in Australia, however derived. The exemption for a single man or woman is £100 and the scale of contribution progresses to 18s. in the £1 on high incomes. The national contribution is in general large enough to cover both Federal income tax and State income tax in the highest taxing State.
A new federal income tax scale is designed to harmonize with the national contribution scale. As the national contribution takes full account of State taxation, it is no longer necessary to allow State taxes as a deduction from income in assessing the federal tax. The amount of federal tax paid toy similar incomes will therefore now be the same in all States instead of varying from State to State. The new scale is designed to make the tax at each level of income about the same as the average tax under the present scale for that income, except, that for high incomes rates are considerably increased.
The chief differences between the proposed tax and the present one are -
The combined scheme of tax and loan will give about £20,000,000 of loan in the current year, and about £3,000,000 more tax than the existing scale.
Further details will be given when the appropriate legislation is under consideration.
Companies are taxed in various way’s by Commonwealth and States and their dividends are taxed again in the income of shareholders. The total of all company income taxation for 1940-41 amounted to about £35,000,000 quite apart from taxation of dividends in the hands of shareholders. There is not much room forincreased taxation. There is, however, a large amount each year allowed as provision for depreciation or left as undistributed profits and used for the expansion of business. In many cases, additions to depreciation funds cannot now be used fully, and expansion of business is not desirable. It is therefore proposed to take as loan 20 per cent, of the yearly accretion in these funds, and repay them after the war, when they will be required by the companies for rehabilitation and expansion. There will be some companies which will require all available funds for expansion for war purposes, and provision will be made to release their contributions to the degree necessary. Loan contributions from provision for depreciation will be made by individuals also.
I estimate that £5,000,000 will be obtained on loan mostly from companies in this way, after making allowance for possible repayment: but the estimate must be tentative, until checked by experience.
I propose also to increase the rate of ordinary company tax from 2s. to 2s. 6d. in the £1. This will apply to both public and private companies, and is estimated to bring in £2,500,000.
It is proposed to increase charges for postal and telephone services as follows : - (i)War postage tax of1/2d. in addition to the normal rates of postage on all postal articles except mail matter to and from members of the fighting forces, air-mail letters to addressees abroad and parcels.
The extra revenue this year is estimated at £1,500,000. Further information will be supplied later by my colleague, the Postmaster-General,
The total of additional funds which will become available in the ways T. have described is estimated to be -
Total additional funds available will then be £32,000,000.
With £32,000,000 raised in this way we shall have, as I said earlier, £122,000,000 to be raised by loans in the ways I have outlined. This will require the full co-operation of the people of Australia, and to get that co-operation we m ust give them the best possible protection against profiteering. There are two additional precautions which the Government proposes to take - dealing primarily with excess profits but designed also as additional safeguards againstinflation.
Control of the Private Banks.
The banks have important functions in the community, particularly in time of war. However well they discharge their functions, there is a real danger that under certain conditions they may make excessive profits out of war finance; and that danger must be guarded against. The deposits of the trading banks have increased by £40,000,000 since the outbreak of war, and I have heard it suggested that these additional funds which they have to invest are a. result of government expenditure and should be lent to the Government at nominal rates of interest. But the increase of deposits is only in line with the increase of employment and production. Bank deposits must be expected to rise with productive activity which is measured roughly by total employment. Employment in Australia has increased byabout 15 per cent, since the outbreak of war, and bank deposits have increased by 14 per cent. There is then no evidence of excess deposits. The deposits of the banks up to the present should not be treated otherwise than in rime of peace.
Nevertheless there is a possible danger for the future. Our finance in the next, few months will require a good deal of temporary accommodation, and a neces sary precautionary measure will be to remove any danger of secondary expansion by the trading banks, and so guard against any excess banking profits.I have given a good deal of consideration to the question of the best method of doing so. My conclusion is that the most effective measure is to require the banks to keep in a special deposit account with the Commonwealth Bank any increase of their funds due to war finance. As a further check on the efficacy of this arrangement, the banks should furnish a certificate from the Commissioner of Taxation, who has access to all of the facts, showing the relation of their profits, before the payment of federal taxes, to their profits before the war. This methodwill in addition contribute to the stability of the financial system generally in that it, will supply a check, if such is required, to any tendency to over-trade on the part of the banks.
This measure of control is a variation of the method proposed by the Banking Commission, by which the Commonwealth Bank could require the banks to keep with it deposits equal to any prescribed percentage of their liabilities to the public. I am satisfied that under war conditions the variation I propose will be practically more effective and immediate in its action than the commission’s recommendation.
It is, moreover, in keeping with the views expressed by the Banking Commission that it is by co-operation between the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks that the regulation of credit will be best achieved. With that end in view I have asked for and have obtained a firm undertaking from the banks that they will accept the procedure I have outlined above and co-operate fully with the Commonwealth Bank in carrying it out. The value of co-operation in working a plan of this kind is very great, and it should be given a fair trial. I shall have all the data before me upon which to judge its effectiveness, and, should it be necessary, the Government will not hesitate to invoke the National Security Act in order to ensure the results required, namely, the prevention of secondary expansion by the trading banks, and an assurance against excessive banking profits.
The terms of the undertaking referred to are as follows: -
TERMS OF UNDERTAKING BY TRADING BANKS.
The trading banks have no intention and no desire to make excess profits arising from war conditions.
As a war-time measure and with the object of ensuring thatadditions to their funds owing to war conditions will not be used to make excess profits or to expand advances in any way contrary to the national interests, they agree to place all surplus investable funds accruing in their hands on deposit with the Commonwealth Bank as special war-time deposits, and agree to the Commonwealth Bank making appropriate variations in the rate of interest thereon to ensure that no excess war-time profits arise.
To achieve the objects set out above the trading banks give the following firm undertaking : -
1 ) They will not make new advances or grant increases in existing advances -except in accordance with the policy laid clown by the Commonwealth Bank from time to time and to ensure conformity therewith will supply to the Commonwealth Bank a monthly analysis of new and increased advances in a form approved by the Commonwealth Bank.
Before purchasing or subscribing to government or semi-government loans, the trading banks will obtain the concurrence of the Commonwealth Bank.
The trading banks will make available by way of deposits with the Commonwealth Bank all surplus investable funds accruing in their hands, i.e., all funds over and above those necessary toenable the banks to meet the overdraft requirements of the public in accordance with the advance policy laid down by the Commonwealth Bank, and those funds necessary for the protection of their depositors. The deposits will be made at such low rates of interest as will avoid the trading banks making excess profits out of war conditions. These rates will be fixed by the Commonwealth Bank from time to time.
They will advise the Commonwealth Bank periodically what funds become available as above and the Commonwealth Bank will decide the total amount of deposits required from the trading banks from time to time.
Such deposits willbe made in a special war-timedeposit account and will be for a term of six months. They will be renewed as they mature unless in the opinion of the Commonwealth Bank they are necessary to the trading banks for purposes mentioned in paragraph (3) hereof.
They agree tosupply the Commonwealth Bank with such certificates from theCommonwealth Commissioner of Taxation as will enable that bank to satisfy itself that the undertaking herein regarding profits is being observed.
I have dealt with the profits of the banks, and I shall now go on to the possibilities of excess profits in other business. It is inflationary finance which gives the great opportunity for profiteering in war-time, and our finance’ has not been inflationary. Moreover, our controls have been particularly effective.
There are three governmental authorities through which profits have been controlled during the war. The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has fixed profit margins of traders and manufacturers and, in many cases, has specifically limited net profits. In some industries, however, individual firms, on account of differences in costs and efficiency, earn widely-varying profits whilst charging the same prices.
The second authority controlling profits exercises its influence through the prices fixed for Government contracts. Every care has been taken to control net profits when determining the prices to be paid under Government contracts. There has been much criticism of the cost-plus system, on the ground that it places a premium on inefficiency and allows excessive profits. The Government is well aware of this danger, and the Departments of Munitions and Supply have carefully checked costs in order to prevent abuses of the system. Critics overlook the fact that “ cost-plus was designed to meet a special situation. Goods not formerly produced in Australia had to be manufactured for the first time; new plant for special war orders had to be installed ; plant and labour had to be diverted from their normal operations to war-time operations; orders had to be placed expeditiously where they could be executed. For all of these reasons there was no basis for operating on the normal tender system in the early stages of the war, but as industry gains experience of filling wartime needs it is becoming possible in a widening range of goods to revert to the fixed quotation system.
Finally, there is the taxation power. Honorable members will recall that during the last budget debates the question of war-time company taxation was remitted to an all-party committee, which recommended the present war-time company tax. This tax imposes a special progressive levy on profits in excess of 8 per cent, on capital employed. It is a high profits tax rather than an excess profits tax, and I arn informed by the Commissioner of Taxation that its aggregate yield is greater than the possible yield of a tax that would take all of war-time profits in excess of a pre-war standard.
Apart from the special war-time company tax; other imposts have been made on public companies. Federal taxation of companies, including private companies, yielded approximately £17,000,000 for the vear 1940-4.1, compared with £S,000,000 in 1939-40 and £4,250,000 in the year before the war. A further increase will take place in the current year.
With these controls the general level of profits in this war has not risen greatly as it did in the last war. But the rapid expansion of economic activity and the increased turn-over of most businesses have brought high earnings, and there may still be cases in which profits are in excess of the pre-war profits even when these were not unduly low. The proposal to levy an excess profits tax based on prewar standards was rejected last year by the committee representative of all parties set up to report to the Government upon the most suitable form of taxing profits during the war. The Government accepted the recommendations of the committee. In the meantime, further experience has been gained of the measures by which the Government is controlling profits, and there is at present a parliamentary committee, representative of all parties, investigating prices and profits. This committee will review the whole problem and consider such gaps as may remain in the Governmental machinery for controlling profits. I assure honorable members that we shall not hesitate to take any further steps necessary to prevent profiteering, or to tax excess profits where they occur. The Government is asking the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Profits to expedite its report so that the position can bo reviewed, in the light of its findings.
For convenience I now summarize the key figures of the revenue budget as follows : -
It is appropriate here to set out briefly how the estimated war expenditure of £217,000,000 for this year will be financed, in comparison with the actual expenditure of £170,000,000 last year :
In addition to the war expenditure which is to be charged to the Loan Account, other relatively small amounts for Post Office Works, DroughtRelief, and Farmers’ Debt Adjustment will be met from Loan Fund. Estimated Loan expenditure in 1941-42, compared with the actual expenditure of 194.0-41, is set out in the following table: -
It has been my task to present to the committee a budget of the unprecedented figure of £322,000,000. In three years, our expenditure has more than trebled. In. contrast with a pre-war defence expenditure of £14,000,000, we have to find this year the huge sura of £217,000,000 for war.
The financial plan which I have placed before you on behalf of the Government is simple, and it recognizes the need for a proper balance between taxation and loans.
First. - Taxation in conjunction with the war-time contribution has bean increased. From these sources we shall raise £170,000,000, compared with £74,000,000 in the last pre-war year.
Secondly. - The Government proposes to borrow £122,000,000 for war purposes. This can only be achieved by every one making savings which involve some sacrifice, and contributing to our war funds in one form or another. These savings are essential if our war effort is to expand as it must.
Thirdly. - The Government will carry out a progressive plan to ensure that the increasing resources required for war are obtained. It will also take resolute measures, if necessary, to prevent warprofiteering by individuals or institutions.
This is Australia’s third war budget and it brings us face to face with this reality : the raising, paying and equipping of our armed forces must take precedence over our spending on comforts and luxuries.
The Avar has entered a new stage, and in it every true Australian will wish to do his bit, whether at home or abroad.
No limit can be set to our efforts to win. We set no financial limit on the number of troops and airmen we shall raise, nor the planes, ships and equipment we shall produce.
Whatever the occasion demands will be done within our physical capacity to do it.
Developments in the ever-changing war situation must, dominate our financial plans. We shall have to review, and perhaps to modify, the budget in the light of developments overseas. We must pay careful attention to the progress made in the provision of additional savings and to the blending of budget policy with economic policy in general. We may have to call for greater sacrifices as our war obligations increase. For all these reasons we cannot assume that our financial plans for the year are finally determined in the budget. The Government proposes to review the budget within the next three months, and to make provision for any additional finance that may be required.
I submit this budget to the decision of Parliament with full confidence that nothing will divert us, individually or collectively, from our plain duty. We must continue to provide the sinews of war without consideration of privilege, creed or party. No more is asked than is necessary for the responsibilities we all must share. We have to meet the challenge of the most powerful and ruthless foe that has ever attempted to strike at the foundations of our national security. It is a challenge that we shall meet with fortitude and courage. Let us face our responsibilities with the same grim deter mination as is being shown by ourfighting allies, resolved to do everything in our capacity in the common cause. We can contemplate doing nothing less, if we wish to preserve our democratic institutions our way of life, and our very existence as a free country.
I move -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 1 - The Senate: - namely - “Salaries and allowances,£ 8,470 “, be agreed to.
The following paper was presented : -
The Budget 1941-42 - Papers presented by the Honorable A. W. Fadden, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the Budget of 1941-42.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
That the House, at itsrising, adjourn until Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
.- I move -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1939, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the second day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-one, be further amended as hereinafter set out, and that, *on* and after the 26th day of September, One thousand nine hundred and forty-one, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1939 as so amended.
This motion provides for a reduction of the duty on dates from 4d. to 3d. per lb. In. May, 1940, the duty was increased from 2d. to 4d. per lb., and this variation is still in the proposal stage. Experience has shown that the duty of 4d., in addition to increased casts of importation, placed too heavy a burden on the importers and consumers of dates and it is now proposed to reduce the rate by1d. per lb.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911-1919.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1935 and for other purposes.
Public Administration: Use of Intel ligence Service Funds : Appointment op Secret Fundsroyal Commission - Loan Council Allocations - Country Newspapers: Share of Com m on wealth Advertising - Compulsory Military Training:Rural Labour Shortage - Prisoners of War: Employment on Afforestation -Clyde Engineering Company Limited - Granville Municipal Council: Grant for Roads - Welfare ofaborigines : Work Of Missions - Forbes Agricultural School - Mr. V. L. Matthews : Anti-tank Invention - Petrol Rationing : Millthorpe Bakery; Brown and Company Motors Proprietary Limited, Ben- digo - Royal Australian Navy: Conditions on Active Service; Methods of Selection.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I do not think that the House should adjourn without an assurance from the Government that the scope of the inquiry by the royal commission into the use of secret funds will be sufficiently wide to enable investigations to be made of allegations that certain financial proposals of the Government were communicated to persons who had no right to know of them. I have no ground for believing th at such communications were made, or were not made; but I am concerned about statements that I have heard, and reports that I have read, that improper communications took place on this subject. It hasbeen alleged that the improper dommunications were made through an intermediary to an officer of the Prime Minister’s Department, who, I cannot conceive, had any right to such communications. I have been informed of the substance of certain telephone conversations. I consider that that matter should be investigated. The House is en titled, also, to an explanation why such a long time has been allowed to elapse without any attempt having been made to take proceedings against the officer who is said to have made these communications. The fact that proceedings are not being taken, and that there is no indication that any proceedings are to be taken, against this person, raises in my mind a suspicion that there are persons in the Parliament and in the Government who cannot afford to allow that person to speak freely on this subject.
– They are afraid.
– At any rate the matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is.
– Did not the Prime Minister say that the whole matter was now in the hands of the Commonwealth Law Department?
– When the Prime Minister was asked a question on the subject to-day he refused, to my mind, to commit himself to an inquiry into anything except allegations concerning the use of secret funds. That is a comparatively unimportant part of the whole story. The people of Australia will require that these other allegations also be investigated.
– It would be interesting to know who makes the allegations.
– That also should be discovered.
– Does the honorable member make them?
– I make the allegation that I have heard and readstatements that have created the greatest suspicion in my mind.
– No doubt the royal commission will be pleased to call the honorable gentleman as a witness.
– I direct the attention of the House to the serious position that has arisen through the. failure of the Loan Council to allocate to the Government of New SouthWales sufficient money to enable it to maintain its public works programme during the current financial year, and, in particular, to continue the work on the Keepit Dam, at Gunnedah. On the 18th September, I made representations to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) in relation to a telegram that I had received on this subject from the secretary of the camp committee at the Keepit, Dam, Gunnedah. In reply to those representations I received the following letter, dated the 22nd September, from the honorable gentleman: - 22 nd September, 1941.
Mr.W.J. Scully. M.P.
Canberra, AustralianCapital Territory.
I acknowledge your representations ofthe 18th September in connexion with a telegram received by you from the secretary. Camp Committee, KeepitDam, Gunnedah, regarding re-allocation of loan money forNew South Wa les. I also have received a telegram direct from the secretary of the Camp Committee stating that the work was closing down and asking for re-allocation of loan money for New South Wales.
To that telegram I. have sent the following reply : -
Your telegram seventeenthLoan Council recently approved allotment four and half million pounds for State works this year. Allocation that amount to specific works matter for State Government in consultation with Co-ordinator-General of Works. Suggest you address your representations State Government.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd. ) A. Fadden,
Prime Minister and Treasurer.
This subject is of the utmost importance to the people of New South Wales. The plight of the Government of that State in this connexion is undoubtedly due to action taken by theCommonwealth Treasurer at theLoan Council. The Co-ordinator-General of Works, Sir Harry Brown, prior to the meeting of the Loan Council, made a close investigation of the loan requirements of the various States, including New South Wales, and recommended certain allocations. The Loan Council subsequently reduced the allocation proposed for New South Wales by Sir Harry Brown by £2,500,000. This action was taken by reason of the fact that the Commonwealth Treasurer used his two deliberative votes, and also his easting vote as chairman of the council, to defeat the allocations recommended by Sir Harry Brown. His votes were supported by the votes of the representatives of Tasmania and South. Australia. The decision of the Loan Council has prevented the Government of New South Wales from proceeding with absolutely essential works, including the important water conservation scheme for the northwest of the State, which is essential for the development of that area, and also for effective post-war reconstruction planning. Moreover, the cessation of the work on the Keepit Dam deprives between 200 and 300 married men of permanent work. That must necessarily have serious results for the wives and children of the men concerned. The need for a water-conservation scheme in the north-west of New South Wales has been accentuated by the progressive drying up of the artesian water basin in that area of the State. Unless the Keepit Dam project can be continued material damage will be inflicted on the economic structure of the whole State, and serious loss will fall upon the people. I appeal to the Treasurer to review this whole subject and to summon another meeting of the Loan Council in order that the allocations decided upon at its last meeting may be considered. It is absolutely essential that the north-west conservation scheme shall be completed, if the people are to continue to develop that country and if effective provision is to he made for post-war operations. The Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales has requested that an early meeting of the Loan Council be summoned to review this subject, and I sincerely trust thai the request will be granted.
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) has raised the matter of the scope of the inquiry by the royal commission which the Government intends to appoint.
– Is the right honorable gentleman closing the debate?
– I am not; I am merely taking the earliest opportunity to clarifythe issues raised by the honorable member for Bourke. I believe that the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) will agree that if a royal commission is to investigate certain matters those matters are not appropriate fora mass of public accusations and counter allegations pending the hearing by the royal commission. Cabinet is to meet as soon as the House rises in order to consider the terms of reference to the royal commission. The matter raised by the honorable member for Bourke is, I imagine, on all fours with that raised by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) yesterday.
– I myself raised it in my speech last night.
– I understand that the issues relate to certain telephone conversations which have been referred to in the public press. I am not able to say, at the moment, what the precise terms of reference will be. Cabinet will discuss them shortly. But I inform honorable members that insofar as the conversations relate to me, or to matters within my knowledge, I shall insist - and I use that word advisedly - that any suggestion that might directly or indirectly concern myself shall be probed with the greatest possible publicity.I desire to make that perfectly clear. Perhaps that will be to the honorable member an indication of the way in which this problem will be approached by the Cabinet.
Mr.Calwell. - Will the terms of reference include the allegation that details of the budget were disclosed in advance to certain interests?
– I have heard in this House an allegation which was repeated from the press. I am completely unaware of any foundation for it. But if any such allegation is made, then it must be examined.
-Will there be an examination of the source whence the newspapers received their information?
– Certainly. I desire to make it quite clear that that also will be examined.
– Without press privilege?
– Without press privilege, having regard to the matters that have been discussed, which I have followed with a certain degree of interest, because at, one stage I seemed to have passed from the role of a spectator almost to that of an actor. I want to make it quite clear that there will be no limitation upon the investigation of this matter so far as I am concerned; that I regard as something which is duc to myself.
– How will the honorable gentleman fare if the Cabinet does not agree to the terms ofreference he desires?
– I think that it will agree to them.
.- I desire to bring to the notice of the Government, and particularly the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), the matter of the allocation to country and provincial newspapers of advertisements which are inserted for the purpose of notifying the liability of certain citizens to submit themselves for military training. I understand that the officers in charge of the different military districts are instructed to insert in suitable newspapers advertisements with respect to the call-up of trainees. I have ascertained that some military officers have interpreted the expression “ suitable “ to mean that they shall withhold advertisements from country newspapers which in their opinion do not cover an area containing a sufficient number of trainees to warrant advertising. This is to their credit, from the point of view of the conservation of public moneys. On the other hand, certain other military officers do not place that interpretation on the expression, with the result that newspapers in their districts receive a very substantial amount of advertising matter, irrespective of the number of trainees covered. In one military district, the country press has received advertisements practically a column in length, whereas in another military district, which is in charge of an officer who gives the restricted meaning to the word “ suitable “, newspapers with an equal circulation do not receive any advertisements. I am not quarrelling with the exercise of care in the expenditure of public funds. I contend, however, that there should be clarification of the basis upon which the officers in the different military districts who have the allocation of these advertisements shall act.
– How did the Woodend Star fare?
– Very badly; hence my complaint; but I am not quarrelling with the interpretation of the officer who made the allocation to that newspaper. There should not be differentiation between townships and newspapers according to the military areas in which they are situated; if a newspaper in one area is to receive a substantial revenue-producing advertisement, fair play demands that a newspaper in anotherarea which docs not cover a fewer number of trainees shall receive like treatment. That is the burden of my complaint. I request that the Government take steps to have even justice handed out to the various newspapers. It might very well consider the removal of the expression “ suitable “ from the instructions issued to military officers. An illustration of the differentiation of which I complain is provided by the Ballarat Courier - which apparently can secure every advertisement that is publishedand the Ballarat Mail, which has a lower circulation and can obtain only an occasional advertisement. It is said, of course, that the Ballarat Courier covers a larger number of readers; but, on the other hand, the Ballarat Mail. even though its circulation is lower, covers that very large section of the population which is producing the greatest number of recruits for the Australian Imperial Force and has also the greatest number of persons liable to be called up for compulsory military training. I understand that the Ballarat Courier is sold at lid. a copy, whereas the Ballarat Mail can he purchased for 4id. a week, and, consequently, has a wider circulation among the larger families, which undoubtedly provide the biggest number of trainees. I shall not mention the names of two country newspapers which illustrate the point that I am making, because I do not want them to be deprived of the substantial amount of revenue they now obtain from the advertisements they receive. Incidentally, they are not in my electorate. My purpose is to convince the Government that all newspapers should be put on the one basis. A question in relation to the matter was asked to-day, and the reply was that the matter had received the attention of the Government, and that instructions had been given that a fair basis of apportionment should be observed. I am quite sure that when the Minister made that statement ho was unaware that, some of his officers adopt a practice different from that of other officers.
To-day, the Government was asked what action it proposes to take in the direction of relaxing the obligation imposed on certain compulsory military trainees in order not to deplete unduly the supply of labour available for harvesting operations. The Minister replied that the matter is receiving consideration. It is so important and urgent, that not only consideration but also immediate action is demanded. A. letter addressed to mc reads -
I do wonder if yon can give any advice re tlie problem of labour for the forthcoming harvest. I am in a predicament, as I am on my own farm of 150 acres of crop to stack a nd stook.
Anybody with a knowledge of cutting, stooking and stacking hay realizes that the problem is of major magnitude. The writer of the letter went on to say -
It does not seem possible to get even one man to assist. The few local chaps that aTc about would not supply one man between two farms. My usual permanent nian and the help that wo usually got in the harvest are now overseas. As a fanner yourself, you will realize that, as far rp harvesting is concerned, une can do practically nothing on one’s own.
This is a serious problem. In Victoria at least, the farmers within a month will be in the middle of hay harvesting operations, and unless the Government decides quickly what it proposes to do a very large portion of different crops will not be harvested and conserved for the national need; indeed, for the war effort. In the circumstances, I urge the Government to deal immediately with this urgent national problem. I hope to receive a suitable reply from the Ministers concerned. >
– I join with the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) in urging action by the Government in relation to the supply of labour for harvesting and dairying operations. In reply to a question that I asked, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) informed me that he is looking into the matter. I stress its urgency. Clearly, unless labour be available for harvesting operations, the harvest cannot, be garnered. The problem is a. serious one. The sams conditions apply to dairy fanners, whose operations arc adversely affected because of the scarcity of labour, caused partly by the call-up for compulsory military training.
This afternoon, I asked the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Spooner) whether he had received a report in respect of the employment of prisoners of war on afforestation and water conservation works, and received the reply that a report had not been furnished to him and that he had no knowledge of the matter. The Minister for Labour and National Services (Mr. Holt) was good enough to intimate to me that he and the Minister for the Army had been taking action. If prisoners of war are to ‘be employed on afforestation and water conservation works, I urge the Government to consider the suitability of Tasmania for afforestation purposes.
Be-afforestation has been the subject of investigation for a number of years. A statement on the matter was made by Mr. Lane Poole, Inspector-General of Forests, as far back as 1928, when the Development and Migration Commission was making a survey of the whole of Australia. Mr. Lane Poole is regarded as a very eminent authority on the subject of afforestation in this country. During the course of the investigation, Mr. G. D.
Rodger, B.Sc., ChiefForestor of the Australian Capital Territory, stated that Tasmania was known topossess the best forest climate in the Commonwealth, and was credited with the possession of very large areas of high forests. He went on to say -
Outside of the highlands of Victoria and New South Wales, it is doubtful whether Australia possesses any region whose climate is so propitions for the growth of the better kinds of conifers as Tasmania. With the threatened famine of softwoods, all regions with conifer climates are of first importance.
The Commonwealth GrantsCommission, in its second and third reports, discussed various methods of overcoming the disabilities under which Tasmania suffers. In both these reports it suggested that something could be done to assist the State by subsidizing afforestation work. The report stated -
The form such help should take would require technical examination, and we do not consider it our province to recommend it except in general terms. An example, however, may make our meaning clearer. Tasmaniahas great forestry possibilities, but her assets have been depleted. A long-term forestrypolicy involving considerable expenditure over a term of years is needed. Such a policy has been worked out and described tous in evidence, and the CommonwealthDirector of Forests commented on it very favorably to us.This policy has now been initiated with the help of the Commonwealth grant for forestry, but it is hampered by uncertainly as to the necessary funds in future years.
I agree that we should get the best use possible out of prisoners of war, and. if their services are to be utilized, I press the claims of Tasmania for a share of the work upon which they would be engaged. For various reasons Tasmania has never received, nor can it, because of geographical considerations, receive a reasonable proportion of capital war expenditure, but if it is possible to make up to that State a part of this loss the Government should not fail to do so. Three or four days ago there appeared in the newspapers a report that orders worth £8,000,000 were being given in the various States for the supply of machinery, and of this amount Tasmania was to receive only £73,425, or less than 1 per cent, of the total. Tasmania has all the natural advantages for afforestation work, including a suitable climate, and its claims are worthy of consideration. The fact that it is separated from the mainland by Bass Strait should not be regarded as an obstacle.
. - I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) regarding the distribution of government advertising in connexion with the callingup of military trainees in country areas. I, too, have received complaints from the proprietors of country newspapers. One proprietor has so far received only one advertisement, while others have received none at all. In country districts most families subscribe to a local paper and, in the interests of the public, notices regarding thecalling-up of trainees should be inserted in the local paper so that they may be seen by those concerned. About a week ago I asked a question in this House regarding the distribution of advertising as between the country press and the metropolitan dailies, and I learned that, during the period under review, £33,000 had been paid for advertising to the newspapers inthe six capi- tal cities, and only £2,731 to newspapers in country districts. The Government employs advertising agencies for the placing of war loan advertisements, and these agencies deduct 20 per cent, of the total amount payable to the country newspapers to which they allot the advertisements. In one instance the amount charged for such an advertisement was £3 12s., representing a charge of1s. an inch, which is very reasonable.The agent deducted 15s. 7d., sending the newspaper proprietor a cheque for £2 16s. 5d., which reduced the rate for the advertisement to 9d. an. inch. Surely advertisements can be placed with the various newspapers by the government departments concerned, thus doing away with the need to pay commission to advertising agents.
.- This afternoon I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr.Fadden) the predicament of men employed in the Clyde engineering works at Granville who are losing their jobs because of the re-organization of the works for the purpose of executing government war orders. The right honorable gentleman said that if I put the question on the notice-paper he would consider it. However, I bring the matterup now as one of urgency because, according to my information, fifteen men were put off on the 12th September, and another fifteen are to be put off to-morrow. The Government promised that a minimum of inconvenience would be caused to the public in the working out of its war production plans. The Government is giving great assistance to the Clyde Engineering Company Limited, having entered into an extraordinary arrangement whereby an advance of £150,000 by the Bank of New South Wales is guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Bank. Now the company has closed down a part of its works which had been in operation for thirty years. Employees who were engaged in the enamel bath section cannot be absorbed in war work by the company, and they are to be displaced. Having regard to the generous assistance which the Government is giving to the company, it is only fair that something should be done for the men. Many of them are old. and trusted employees with fifteen and twenty years of service. They have families and are over military age. This is the first test of the Government’s plan for the reorganization of industry, and it provides an opportunity for the Government to show what it proposes to do for men who lose their jobs because of industrial reorganization. On the 5th September I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Spooner), who gave me an attentive hearing, but apparently it does not come under his department because, on the 25th of this month, he wrote to me as follows: -
I enclose copy of letter and supporting intorrriation thatI received to-day from the company, from which it appears that the particulars of thu displaced men have already been supplied both to the Commonwealth and State employment authorities.
The matter of their future employment does not come within the scope of my department, hut I suggest that you might press the claim of these mcn at the Commonwealth Employment Department. As you are aware, two large war establishments are projected within accessible distance from Granville, and while these are not yet in production it may be that preliminary arrangements are being made for personnel.
– Has the honorable member given the names of these men to the officers of my department?
– I communicated with the Minister’s department, and I understand that an officer went out and took the names of the men. The arrangements mentioned by the Minister are still in the preliminary stage, and months will elapse before employment is found for any large number of men. In the meantime, they should receive some consideration - perhaps in the form of sustenance for them and their families.
Over three mouths ago, I communicated with the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) regarding the application of the Granville Municipal Council for financial assistance to construct a road, a few hundred yards long, between Parramattaroad, Granville, and Grand-avenue, in order to give access to certain large industries, most of which are engaged in the production of war materials. One of them is the Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited. The cost of constructing the road, including a bridge over a creek, is £12,000. At the present time, the funds of many local governing bodies are not particularly buoyant, and the Granville Council being no exception, it sought from the Commonwealth a grant of £6,000 and approval to borrow the balance of the money. The proposition was most reasonable, because the road would definitely facilitate access to war industries. Three months elapsed before 1 obtained any information. At first, I received only formal acknowledgments of the receipt of my requests. Then I had an interview with the Treasurer, and wrote to him a letter marked “ personal “. A few days ago, he notified me that the request had been declined. His letter stated -
With reference to my letter of 26th August, concerning your representations on behalf of the Municipality of Granville for Commonwealth assistance towards the cost of construction of a road and bridge in that district, the information now furnishedby the Department of Munitions indicates that the only Commonwealth war activity in the district is the annexe in course of erection by the Australian Aluminium Works, which will be controlled by the Aircraft Production Commission.
This enterprise has now commenced production, and will supply large industries in the neighbourhood that are manufacturing parts for aeroplanes. The road is required to ensure the safe transport of materials in that area, as the present route has two dangerous crossings and is totally inadequate to carry the traffic that will pass over it in future.
To indicate that the Treasurer has possibly been misinformed about the matter, I quote a letter which I received to-day from the town clerk of the Granville Municipal Council. It reveals that various industries other than the Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited are interested in the construction of the road. It states -
In reply to your letter of 23rd September, 1941, I am pleased to supply the information you require regarding the industries which would be directly served by the proposed road from Grant-avenue to Parramatta road, as follows : -
I would stress the fact that the council’s request is for a contribution of half cost by the Commonwealth and for permission to borrow the other half of the cost.
Apart from the industries mentioned in the letter, other factories would use the road for transport of materials, and. in addition, this work would be of great convenience to 7,000 or S,000 employees in the district. I emphasize that the request is not trivial and ask the Treasurer to institute an independent inquiry into the facts. If he does so, he will be satisfied that the proposition is fair and reasonable.
– The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the possibility of using prisoners of war in connexion with afforestation work in Tasmania. Unfortunately, I was absent from the chamber when he outlined the details of his proposal, but I shall be pleased to give full consideration to his suggestions. During recent weeks, the Department of the Army and the Department of Labour and National Service have been investigating the possibility of utilizing the services of prisoners of war upon the kind of project which the honorable member mentioned. But, as the House will appreciate, certain practical difficulties are associated with any such proposal. The matter of security, the provision of accommodation, and problems relating to health have to he taken into consideration before effective use can be made of the labour of war prisoners. When plans are sufficiently developed, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), and I hope to hold a joint conference with appropriate officers from our respective departments with a view to putting the scheme into effect.
– Will the Minister examine Tasmania’s claims for consideration?
– Certainly; the possibility of making use of prisoners of war in Tasmania will be fully examined. When the subject of afforestation is under review, that State has particular claims for consideration.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), referred to the problem created by the displacement of certain labour at Clyde Engineering works. I am gratified to learn that he brought the matter to the notice of the employment division of the Department of Labour and National Service, and I shall discuss with my officers the best method of placing the men, as soon as practicable, in regular employment.
– Will the Minister consider the granting of sustenance to the men concerned?
– That is a matter of Government policy in which my department would be only one of many that would be interested; but I shall bring the suggestion to the attention of the Government.
– A religious publication, The Signs of the Times, contains a reference to evidence which an anthropologist - a woman - gave before the Joint Committee on Social Security in Melbourne. According to this report, she declared that the missions do more harm than good to the natives. I challenge that statement. I shall not mention her name, because I attended a science congress in Canberra at which she delivered lectures, and I respect her for the voluntary work that she has performed among natives in New South Wales. Nevertheless, her evidence is a serious reflection upon the missions. All religious denominations are rendering excellent service to this forgotten race in the Northern Territory. In the Islands east of Darwin, the Methodists are carrying on the good work. Nearer Darwin, in West Arnhem Land, the Church of England is performing really magnificent service. For the natives on Melville Island, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Darwin has done a most effective job. Fortunately, food supplies there are ample. In the Alice Springs district, numbers of detribalized natives roamed the roads until a few years ago, when Father Maloney, who had a wonderful experience of life among the aboriginals on Palm Island, put the natives into huts and cared for them, and secured voluntary contributions to provide schools in which to educate those of superior intelligence.
– From personal experience, does the honorable member say that the missions arc doing a good job among the natives?
– Certainly. I am gratified to learn that the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), who is a good churchman, is a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security. He will not allow such allegations to go unanswered. I also feel confident that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Collins), who until recently, assisted the Minister for the Interior, will take action to refute the statement that missionaries do more harm than good to the natives.
For many years, a feud has existed between anthropologists and missionaries. The Reverend Mr. Nichols, of Melbourne, himself a native, declared that the anthropologist, Dr. Thompson, who travelled through Arnhem Land many years ago, looked upon the aboriginals as Exhibit “A”. He added that the missionaries have done more good than the anthropologists for the aboriginals. The Joint Committee on Social Security should call evidence to rebut the allegations of the lady anthropologist.
– That has already been done.
– I also urge the PostmasterGeneral to ensure that the missionaries shall be granted adequate financial assistance for the maintenance of their schools, so that they may carry on their good work. I express the hope that missionaries and anthropologists will, in future, work in close co-operation for the well-being of this almost forgotten race.
.- The policy of the Capital Issues Advisory Board is having a serious effect on an important subsidiary of the educational system of New South Wales. Numerous religious institutions cater for the secular and religious education of children belonging to their respective denominations, and in this way, greatly assist the State Department of Education. As the result of the decision of the Loan Council, the amount of money which is to be made available to each State for the purpose of expanding educational systems by erecting new buildings and engaging additional teaching staff, has been substantially curtailed in comparison with the amounts that were available a few years ago. As the Capital Issues Advisory Board has refused to permit private denominational organizations to incur expenditure for the purpose of carrying on their programmes of expansion, an additional burden is thrown upon the State Department of Education. One glaring instance of the shortcomings of this policy is the refusal of the Capital Issues Board to allow the Roman Catholic educational body in central western New South Wales to erect an agricultural school at Forbes. It is well, in the interests of the Government’s war requirements, to restrict building operations in areas where there is a shortage of builders, but not in areas, such as Forbes, where there is a surplus which, owing to reasons of domestic economy, cannot be transferred to places where a shortage exists. People with families engaged in occupations in country towns or on farms cannot be expected to uproot themselves and go to the cities in search of work. As the result of the policy of the Capital Issues Board, builders who could usefully be employed on such works as the erection of an agricultural school at Forbes are forced to remain idle. The instance I have cited could be multiplied many times. I appeal to the Government to give urgent consideration to this matter.
A matter which concerns the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) is the refusal of the army authorities to give due recognition to Mr. V. L. Matthews, of Grenfell, the inventor of a device which has been employed by the Australian Imperial Force to stop German tanks. Apparently, some fifteen months ago, Mr. Matthews made a special visit from Grenfell to Sydney to place his device before the officials at Victoria Barracks. I understand that, after having received a cool reception at Victoria Barracks, he saw the chairman of the Inventions Board, Sir Philip Goldfinch, who assured him of the worth of the device. Recently, he saw in a Sydney Sunday newspaper a picture of a group of Australian soldiers demonstrating how they had stopped the German tank advance in Crete. He at once recognized the device used as the one which he had shown to the Defence Department. At a fair amount of expense to himself Mr. Matthews demonstrated his device locally on his own tractor, and in doing so nearly destroyed the tractor. In spite of that he does not desire any monetary gain from his invention. He thinks, however, that since his idea was adopted by the military he is entitled to some official recognition. I hope that the Minister for the Army will see that he receives that recognition.
Since the war began the population of country towns where there is no war activity has dwindled. Men have gone into the Army and others, with their families, have transferred to the cities in search of war work. Millthorpe, a town near Orange, is one town which has suffered. Whereas two years ago the population in the Millthorpe-Springhill district was sufficient to warrant four bakeries, two in each town, conditions have so changed that now only one bakery is necessary. The two Millthorpe bakeries were bought out and amalgamated by Mr. Cecil Moore. Mr. A. C. Cole, who was operating a bakery at Springhill, bought out the other Springkill bakery. The Liquid Fuel Control Board originally allocated to Mr. Moore 84 gallons of petrol a month, but this was reduced to 72 gallons. Owing to the impossibility of his carrying on, Mr. Moore negotiated with Mr. Cole to take over the whole of the bread-baking for the distract. This Mr. Moore agreed to do. provided he was assured of sufficient petrol to enable him to do the whole of the deliveries. Accordingly, he communicated with the State Liquid Fuel Control Board, and was advised in the following terms : -
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of the 28th July, 1941, and I have to inform you that in the event of your purchasing Mr. C. Moore’s bakery .business, the board would be prepared to grant you a ration allowance equivalent to the total quantity authorized to be obtained by the consumer’s licences held by yourself and Mr. Moore.
Having received that assurance, Mr. Cole took over the whole of the business. Then, when he applied to the Liquid Fuel Control Board for what can be described as a composite allowance, he was advised as follows : -
Receipt is acknowledged of your communication of the 20th August, 1941, and I have to advise that your representations have received the consideration of the State Liquid Fuel Control Board.
The records of this office reveal that the ration allowance authorized under authority of the licence issued to Mr. C. Moore was far in excess of the quantity shown on the authorized scale for such use and mileage. I have been directed by the board to inform you that the maximum allowance for this vehicle is 29 units (Class Ob).
The attached application form COB.l. should be completed, therefore, and submitted to the local police authorities.
With such a small allowance of petrol Mr. Cole cannot carry on.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I shall speak briefly, but none the less strongly, about action taken by the Liquid Fuel Control Board of Victoria and the Commonwealth Liquid Fuel Board in the case of Brown and Company Motors Proprietary Limited, Bendigo. Mr. Brown’s petrol re-selling business was visited about two months ago by an inspector of the Liquid Fuel Control Board named Warne, who charged Mr. Brown with serious irregularities in regard to the sale of petrol. The board said that the shortage of petrol as against the dockets supplied amounted to 3,367 gallons. That board consists of five members, but only two of them dealt with, his case before it was referred to the Commonwealth Liquid Fuel Control Board. Mr. Brown wrote the following letter to the Commonwealth Liquid Fuel Controller, Mr. J. E. England -
I have before me a letter from the State Liquid Fuel Board dated the 4th August and received on the 7th in reply to my request for a copy of figures, from which the board’s officers submitted a. statement alleging irregularities.
I also made a request for a copy of the shorthand notes, taken by the board, for verification by me.
I again repeat that I am not prepared to accept responsibility in this direction when details as asked for are denied to me; and 1 strongly repudiate many of the suggestions contained in that letter.
Would you, Sir, please extend to me the privilege of submitting the actual facts, to your goodself, before any final conclusions are reached in this matter?
I am particularly concerned regarding cash purchases, particulars of which Inspector Warne obtained from bulk suppliers, and which he refuses to forward to me a complete copy thereof.
He received the following reply from the secretary of the board -
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 10th August directed to the controller. The matter is at present being investigated and you will be advised further.
Some time after that he was advised that he could not have access to the figures or the shorthand notes. The board is as arrogant and unjust as Hitler. It stated that he had sold 3,367 gallons of petrol, which was net accounted for by ration tickets, and claimed that his returns were incorrect. The truth is that there was an error of addition in the board’s own statement involving 1,414 gallons of spirit, and that the Neptune Oil Company, an offshoot of the Shell Company, which has a very poor reputation at the present time, disposed of 1,745 gallons in the name of Mr. Brown, although he did not receive that quantity and did not pay for it. Actually, the petrol was received and paid for by the company’s agent in Bendigo. The board now admits this. It now claims that there is a discrepancy of 208 gallons in Mr. Brown’s figures. This is accounted for by the fact that four drums of petrol were sold to a consumer and paid for in September, but were not taken from Mr. Brown’s premises, so that they were included by the board’s inspector in the returns for October. I took this matter to the Minister for Supply and Development, who received me very courteously; my complaint does not bear in any way upon the Minister, but is directed entirely at the Liquid Fuel Control Board. Because it refused pointblank to provide Mr. Brown with a copy of the evidence on which it. found him guilty of committing an offence, he had no proper opportunity to defend himself. Even a murderer is entitled to hear the evidence on which he is convicted. A member of the board informed Mr. Brown, in the presence of a witness, that the fact that he had sought political influence would have a seriously adverse effect on his case.
– We should get rid of the board.
– We should dispense with the services of that member of the board, at any rate. Owing to some oversight, the Minister for Supply and Development has no power, under the National Security Act, to reverse any decisions made by the Liquid. Fuel Control Board. This means that a civil servant, who might be interested in some transport board, might be given an opportunity to use the powers of the Liquid Fuel board on behalf of the interests of the transport board. That is a scandalous state of affairs. It is time that the Government took definite action to control the operations of the board. Mr. Brown, who is a Justice of the Peace, is held in high esteem in Bendigo. He has been in business there for many years, and his word is honoured by men who have important dealings with him involving much more than was involved in his transactions with the Liquid Fuel Control Board. Nevertheless the board has withdrawn his licence to sell petrol, with the result that he is losing an income of £25 a week and is forced to suffer the humiliation of being treated as a criminal. The sooner the Government places people with a sense of justice in control of the petrol-rationing scheme, the better will be its own position.
.-I have here a copy of a letter from a member of the Royal Australian Navy, who makes serious allegations which merit the immediate attention of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes). I ask that an immediate enquiry be held into the charges that he makes. This letter, which was not written to myself, is as follows : -
This which I am about to write may appear to you to be highly irregular. I admit it is. But only after months of untiring efforts to get satisfaction through the correct channels with no avail have I decided to employ this irregular but, I hope, effective method. I am a rating serving overseas on board one of Australia’s destroyers which are “held together by string”. That jesting remark which our Prime Minister passed on remarking on the Battle of Matapan was dramatically correct. It is a case of a true word spoken in jest. He is definitely and positively correct. For months now the men on board these ships have been trying to gain satisfaction through sendee channels to have something done, but each attempt has been squashed before it could get far enough. These ships of “ last war vintage “ on which we serve are in a shocking condition, and it is only fair that the public of Australia should know the type of things in which we daily risk our lives unduly. Each of them have broken down from anything up to 20 times in midocean, entirely at the mercy of the enemy. By sheer good luck we have never broken down during action. The living conditions are probably the most unhealthy of any ship in any navy. Mess spaces are cramped. Wash places shocking, an average of one basin to 25 men, while food storage is definitely against all rules of health. The armament of the ship is definitely inadequate for modern warfare. Anti-aircraft weapons are absolutely miles below the class of weapon which modern destroyers carry. Yet we are sent to do the same duties as they. After almost two years of this, we are now showing signs of wear, and when we apply for a spell we are refused point blank. You can understand what a strain, both mentally and physically, we have been under, having to keep pace with ships which are built twenty years after ours, and how we have had to put each individual effort to our jobs. I can truthfully say that the spirit of all has been good to date, and our jobs have been done with good heart, but in the last few months, since we have realized our Naval Board’s attitude towards us, we are losing our punch. We are out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. The conditions we have been living under are starting to tell, and despite all we have done in the past which has been recognized as good work, we can get no satisfaction from our Naval Board. Through letters from home we have learned of how the people in home waters are having anything up to six weeks’ leave per annum. Some of us have had none for two and a half years. The people at home are able to get to their homes of a night but we can’t. There is much discontent in the ships over the treatment and consideration shown to us by the Naval Board, and all we get from them is an occasional message telling us how they are pleased with our work. At one time these worthless scraps of paper would have pacified us, but now they are regarded as a means of hoodwinking us into believing we are heroes. We don’t want appreciation in this form, but in the form of relief from this life, which is so unnatural, in the form of leave. We are quite willing to return and complete the job which we realize mustbe done, providing we have a spell to recuperate fromthe long time, and the gruelling months we have spent since the outbreak of war, and providing our Naval Board will put us on ships in which we can feel happily content, and which will be up to the standard which modern warfare requires. [Quorum formed.]
I hope that the Minister for the Navy will take serious notice of the protest that this member of the Royal Australian Navy has made on behalf of himself and his fellow service men in a last desperate attempt to secure justice.
I also direct the attention of the Minister to the manner in which the Naval Board discharges its obligations through some of its officials. A resident of my electorate lodged an application on the 14th March last for appointment to the antisubmarine branch of the Naval Forces. He passed a medical examination, and undertook a special study of spherical trigonometry, which is the basis of the science of navigation. He travelled to Sydney at his own expense on the 16th May in order to appear before the selection board and avoid the long wait until the board arrived in Melbourne on the 21st July. At that interview he was asked whether he knew anything about navigation and electricity, and replied in the negative . Most of the other questions which he was asked related to the sports in which he had engaged at school and the university, and the reason why he wanted to join the Navy. He said that he wanted to go to sea, and was seeking employment with the anti-submarine branch because it was an important unit and appealed to him as requiring trained minds rather more than most jobs in the other services. His qualifications at this stage were that he had a university degree, experience of handling people gained from active practice in the law courts, and a knowledge of spherical trigonometry. He had no knowledge of navigation or electricity, and lacked yachting experience. However, this was not very serious, because many people who know nothing about seamanship have been appointedto the anti-submarine branch of the Navy.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Aweek after this gentleman appeared before the selection board he was informed that he had not obtained sufficient marks to justify selection for the next qualifying course. During the intervening months up to the 31st July, he studied navigation and electricity, and on that day when he appeared again for selection, he had reached a standard at least equal to that of the examination held in those subjects at the anti-submarine school after completion of the qualifying course. The selection board consisted of Commander Jones, R.A.N., and Commander Newcombe, R.N. Commander Newcombe asked him a few questions on alternating currents, which he answered correctly, and then he was asked what school he had attended. I object to any person, seeking employment in any branch of the armed forces or employment with any government or even private employment, being questioned as to what school he attended. As a matter of fact this man had studied at local State schools, and had won a scholarship to the Melbourne High
School. He told Commander Newcombe that he was at the Melbourne High School. He was not asked any more questions. Commander Jones then put him through a rigorous crossexamination as to why he wanted to join the Navy, and then asked him a lot of minor details about whether the blue ensign was flown at the fore or aft of Australian warships, the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty, the name of the flagship of the light forces used as a decoy at the Battle of Cape Matapan, and the names of the officer commanding the ship, and of the officer commanding the Australian squadron. He was not able to answer all of those questions correctly, and it was obvious that Commander Jones, at least, thought that he had shown no real interest in naval affairs and was not impressed by his qualifications. No attempt was made to examine him on his knowledge of navigation, which, I now understand, is probably more advanced than the officers who qualify in the course are expected to have. Little weight seems to have been given to the fact that, in his desire to join the Navy, he had even gone to Sydney at his own expense for an interview and had done a great amount of study in an endeavour to qualify for selection. No selection was held in Melbourne from January until July of this year. How many applicants who were ultimately unsuccessful were immobilized for that period and their enlistment in the Services delayed will probably never be determined. This man saw that he was not wanted in the Navy, despite his qualifications and despite his persistence in trying to equip himself to become an acquisition to the antisubmarine corps. Eventually he enlisted as a private in the Armoured Division. It would seem, from the story I have related, that had this man attended a public school he would have had the necessary “ old-school-tie “ qualification andCommander Jones would have been more deeply impressed. I urge the Government to see that all officers who are appointed as members of selection boards for the Navy shall be members of the Australian Navy. It would be far better if Australian naval officers made the selection of personnel for our own Navy. They seem to understand the
Australian temperament, whereas officers of the Royal Navy are too deeply steeped in the “ old-school-tie “ tradition. This man had won his way through life and eventually, on scholarships, obtained his LL.M degree. He should not have been denied the opportunity to serve in our Navy simply because of some peculiar prejudice on the part of a member of the selection board.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented: -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment of E. W. H. Stoddart, Department of the Interior.
House adjourned at 8.6 p.m.
The following answersto questions were circulated: -
International Labour Office.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
No. 7. - Minimum age for admission of children to employment at sea.
No. 8. - Unemployment indemnity in case of loss or foundering of the ship.
No. 9. - Facilities for finding employment for seamen.
No. 15. - Minimum age for the admission of young persons to employment as trimmers or stokers.
No. 16. - Compulsory medical examination of children and young persons employed at sea.
No. 21. - Simplification of the inspection of emigrants on board ship.
No. 22.-Seamen’s articles of agreement.
No. 26. - Creation of minimum-wage-fixing machinery.
No. 27. - Marking of the weight on heavy packages transported by vessels.
No. 29. - Forced or compulsory labour.
No. 57. - Hours of work on board ship and manning.
No. 63. - Statistics of wages and hours of work In the principal mining and manufacturing industries. 2. (a) Australia has not adopted 55 International Labour Conventions relating to the following subjects: -
No. 1. - Hours of work in industrial undertakings.
No. 2. - Unemployment.
No. 3. - Employment of women before and after childbirth.
No. 4. - Employment of women during the night.
No.5. - Minimum age for admission of children to industrial employment.
No. 6. - Night work of young persons employed in industry.
No. 10. - Age for admission of children to employment in agriculture.
No. 11. -Rights of association and combination of agricultural workers.
No. 12. - Workmen’s compensation in agriculture
No. 13. - Use of white lead in painting.
No. 14. - Application of the weekly rest in industrial undertakings.
No. 17. - Workmen’s compensation for accidents.
No. 18. - Workmen’s compensationfor occupational diseases.
No. 19. - Equality of treatment for national and foreign workers as regards workmen’s compensation for accidents.
No. 20. - Night work in bakeries.
No. 23. - Repatriation of seamen.
No. 24. - Sickness insurance for workers in industry and commerce and domestic servants.
No. 25. - Sickness insurance for agricultural workers.
No. 28. - Protection against accidents of workers employed in loading or unloading ships.
No. 30. - Regulation of hours of work in commerce and offices.
No. 31. - Hours of work in coal-mines.
No. 32. - Protection against accidents of workers employed in loading or unloading ships (revised 1932).
No. 33. - Admission of children to nonindustrial employment.
No. 34. - Fee-charging employment agencies.
No. 35. - Compulsory old-age insurance for persons employed in industrial or commercial undertakings, in the liberal professions, and for outworkers and domestic servants.
No. 36. - Compulsory old-age insurance for persons employed in agricultural undertakings.
No. 37. - Compulsory invalidity insurance for persons employed in industrial or commercial undertakings, in the liberal professions, and for outworkers and domestic servants.
No. 38. - Compulsory invalidity insurance for persons employed in agricultural undertakings.
No. 39. - Compulsory widows’ and orphans’ insurance for persons employed in industrial or commercial undertakings, in the liberal professions, and for outworkers and domestic servants.
No. 40. - Compulsory (widows’ and orphans’ insurance for persons employed in agricultural undertakings.
No. 41. - Employment of women during the night (revised 1934).
No. 42. - Workmen’s compensation for occupational diseases (revised 1934).
No. 43. - Regulation of hours of work in automatic sheet-glass works.
No. 44. - Benefit or allowances to the involuntarily unemployed.
No. 45. - Employment of women on underground work in mines.
No. 46. - Hours of work in coal-mines (revised 1935).
No. 47. - Reduction of hours of work to 40 a week.
No. 48. - Establishmentof an international scheme for the maintenance of rights under invalidity, old-age and widows’ and orphans’ insurance.
No. 49. - Reduction of hours of work in glass-bottle works.
No. 50. - Regulation of certain special systems of recruiting workers.
No. 51. - Reduction of hours of work on public works.
No. 52. - -Annual holidays with pay.
No. 53. - Minimum requirements of professional capacity for masters and officers on board merchant ships.
No. 54. - Annual holidays with pay for seamen.
No. 55. - Liability of the ship-owner in case of sickness, injury or death of seamen.
No. 56. - Sickness insurance for seamen.
No. 58. - Minimum age for the admission of children to employment at sea (revised 1936).
No. 59. - Minimum age for admission of children to industrialemployment (revised 1937).
No. 60. - Age for admission of children to non-industrial employment (revised 1937).
No. 61. - Reduction of hours of work in the textile industry.
No.62. - Safety provisions in the building industry.
No. 64. - Regulation of written contracts of employment of indigenous workers.
No. 65. - Penal sanctions for breaches of contracts of employment by indigenous workers.
No. 66. - Recruitment, placing and conditions of labour of migrants for employment.
No. 67. - Regulation of hours of work and rest periods in road transport. 2. (b) Prom the foregoing list it will be noticed that seven are revisions of earlier conventions so that the actual number of unratified conventions is really 48. The conventions not yet ratified fall within three classes affecting:(a) Commonwealth alone; (b) Commonwealth and States; and (c) States exclu sively. Of those conventions whose subjectmatter is within the legislative competence of the Commonwealth most have been ratified. In the cases of (b) and (c) which comprise the great majority of the conventions, the Commonwealth can only recommend to the States and endeavour to obtain general agreement among the States with a view to their adoption. Most of these conventions require legislation or regulations to ensure that their provisions can be carried into effect. Thus the Commonwealth, which is responsible internationally, must, before ratification of any convention, be satisfied that the subject-matter is covered by State legislation. Although prior to the outbreak of war five States had intimated that there was no objection to ratification of a substantial number of conventions, no reply had been received from the remaining State. I desire to point out to the honorable member that of the 48 conventions which have not been adopted, ten (Nos. 24, 25, 35 to 40 inclusive, 48 and 56) deal with forms of compulsory insurance, a subject upon which Commonwealth legislation was enacted although not yet operative. Several others (e.g. 3 to 6 inclusive, 33 and 45) deal with subjects which are not applicable under Australian conditions. Five (Nos. 12, 17, 18, 19 and 55) deal with the subject of workmen’s compensation, a matter upon which, as the honorable member is aware, adequate legislative provision has already been made throughout Australia. Other conventions such as No. 44 dealing with unemployment relief and Nos. 28 and 62 dealing with protection of workmen against accident, concern subjects in respect of which legislative provision is already made throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member will appreciate that in general, industrial and social legislation in Australia is ahead of that in most countries of the world. At the same time, before ratification of a convention may take place, it is essential that the law in force shall give effect to every provision in that convention. In many cases, therefore while conditions in Australia correspond substantially with those prescribed by a number of the conventions, ratification is not possible because of some minor variation in one or more States.
n asked the Minister for SocialServices, upon notice -
Will he give consideration to the claim for invalid pension by Cecil Skinner, of Guildford, and to the position of blind persons generally who have no fixed employment or business but rely on casual work or business, movable kiosks and the like?
– I am asking the Pensions Commissioner to report to me regarding the circumstances of invalid pension claim by Cecil Skinner of
Guildford, and I will communicate with the honorable member after considering these circumstances.
n. - On the 18th September, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) £1,491,000,000 at 30th June, 1939: (b) Debt of local governing bodies not available. Commonwealth and States debt at 30th June, 1941, was£ 1,426,000,000.
n asked the Postmastergeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
– The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a.) £517,055. (b) £4,677,076.
Tool and Gauge Proprietary Limited, Purvis and Glover, Gilbert and Parker Proprietary Limited,E.R.L. Products Proprietary Limited, Tasmanian StateRailways, Boltons Limited, W. G. Coetz and Son Limited, Kelvinator (Australia) Limited, J. W. Handley, Plumbs Limited, Dominion Can Company, Hoskins Foundry Limited, Melbourne Iron and Steel Proprietary Limited, Steel Company of Australia Proprietary Limited, Perry Engineering Company Limited, Westinghouse Brake (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Timbrols Proprietary Limited, Henry Jones and Company Limited, Bradford, Kendall Limited, Metal Products Limited, Broken Hill Associated Smelters, F. T. Leigh and Company Proprietary Limited, Australian Paper Manufacturing Company, Slazengers,Rylands Brothers, Gibb and Miller Limited, British United Shoe Machinery Company, Lever Brothers Limited, industrial Steel Proprietary Limited, Hadfields (Australia) Limited, Quality Casting Proprietary Limited, Coote Jorgensen Limited, Snnnerdales Proprietary Limited.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that members of the military intelligence and the security police sections are recruited at 5s. a day, and are granted 2s. a day for wearing civilian clothes, and are not allowed to wear uniform?
– Military intelligence and security police personnel are paid in accordance with rank or classification as laid down in establishments. A private in the Military Intelligence Service classified as specialist group TI. would receive 7s. a day rate prescribed under War Financial Regulations for specialist group II. A private not classified as specialist receives 5s. a day. A corporal’s pay is 9s. a day. Dependants’ allowance is additional all ranks. No other special allowance is payable.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will the Minister inquire -
whether, as chairman, he took any action when the events alleged in paragraphs 1 and2 took place; and
whether it is advisable that such a person should be employed as a radio announcer in war-time?
– A congress was held recently at the Leichhardt Stadium, Sydney, to support aid for Russia, and the chairman of the organizing committee was a Mr. Terry. I am having further inquiries made into the other matters raised by the honorable member, who may rest assured that appropriate action will he taken if and wherever necessary.”
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
Is Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited or any representative thereof interested in the management, supplying, or equipping of -
Ifso, to what extent, and what is the basis of remuneration for such services?
– The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answers : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410925_reps_16_168/>.