16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the House that Mr. Leslie Blackwell, K.C., M.C., a member of the Parliament of the Union of South Africa, who is an Australian by birth, is within the precincts of the House. “With the concurrence of honorable members, I propose to invite Mr. Blackwell to take a seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Mr. Blackwell thereupon entered the chamber and was seated accordingly.
– I ask the Treasurer whether recently conducted polls of Australian public opinion disclosed that, of those whose opinions were sought, 60 per cent, were in favour of compulsory savings, compared with 20 per cent, against them, and 50 per cent, expressed a preference for heavier taxes, compared with 11 per cent, who preferred a higher living cost? If this be so, will the honorable gentleman agree that the results indicate the methods which the public consider should be used in order to raise revenue in time of war ? If not, why not?
– I have no knowledge of the particular polls to which the honorable member has referred, and am extremely doubtful whether such polls have any value. Before expressing an opinion of the results, I should like to be informed as to who were responsible for the taking of the polls, what number of votes was unrecorded, and what was the number of informal votes.
– An annexe to the Launceston railway workshops has been under construction for a very lengthy period. Can the Minister for Munitions indicate when it is likely to commence production ?
– I have no personal knowledge of when this annexe is likely to begin production, but I shall have inquiries made immediately in order to ascertain what progress has been made towards that end. I propose to visit Tasmania within the next few weeks, and assure the honorable gentleman that I shall then make a complete survey of the whole position in relation to munitions works in that State. The matter that he has raised will be one of the earliest that I shall investigate.
-I ask the Treasurer whether the press this morning is correct in stating that, owing to the number of resignations of members of the Capital Issues Advisory Board, that body is now unable to function? If so, what action does the Government propose to take?
– The Government has received the resignation of a number of members of the Capital Issues Advisory Board, and has decided to substitute for that body a Capital Issues Advisory Committee, the personnel of which will be announced at a later hour today.
- Mr. D. J. Nolan, who was recently transferred from the Sydney County Council to the Clyde Engineering Company Limited, as a nominee of the Commonwealth Government, for the purpose of managing that company at a salary of £3,000 a year, has now been transferred to the Department of Supply and Development. Will the Minister for Supply and Development state what his duties will be in the new position, whether they will overlap in any way the duties of the Director-General of Supply, and whether he will retain the position of general manager of the Clyde Engineering Company Limited ?
– The services of Mr.
Nolan have been made availableto the Department of Supply and Development. This will not entirely dissociate him from the work that he was doing for the Clyde Engineering Company Limited. It is considered that the organization which has been set up for the company will function with less attention from Mr. Nolan than he has hitherto given to it. He will ‘be called upon to assist in sorting out the duties or functions of the Department of Supply and Development as between matters of supply and matters relating to munitions. Time alone can determine whether there will be overlapping and, if so, to what extent.
Mr.CONELAN. - Will the Minister for Repatriation, during his proposed visit to Brisbane, consult with the State health authorities with a view to the coordination of medical services for both civil and military sufferers from tuberculosis ?
– I intend to visit Brisbane next week-end, in order to look into the establishment of a repatriation hospital for tubercular patients. I shall be prepared to consult with any person who can supply information or give assistance in that, connexion. I hope that the hospital will be located on a suitable site, and I shall, of course, consult with the State Government.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the report, published in to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph, that ironworkers and tradesmen employed in the open hearth department of the Port Kembla steel works went on strike yesterday? If so, will he direct the attention of these employees to the appeal that he made to workers generally last Monday not to hold up production until he and the Government had had an opportunity to investigate any matter in dispute?
– This matter has only recently been brought to my notice. Judging by the readiness with which the workers have co-operated with the Labour Government of which I am a member, I am perfectly satisfied that an early settlement will be achieved.
– I should like to know from you, Mr. Speaker, whether question No. 18 on the noticepaper for to-day standing in the name of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is in order. The question is as follows : -
Is the honorable member in order in asking a question that is scientifically stupid-
– Order !
– That is opposed to the truth-
– Comment is forbidden in the asking of questions.
– I am asking you whether it is in order to ask a question which is insulting to other honorable members, and is opposed to the truth, as well as being, in general, contrary to the Standing Orders.
– The question referred to is out of order. On Friday last, the honorable member for Barker asked this same question without notice. I interrupted him at the time, and said that he was out of order. The Treasurer then asked that the question be placed on the noticepaper, and this was treated by the Clerk as an authority for having it printed. If the question had come under my notice I should have excluded it from the noticepaper.
– Will you now make a direction in regard to it ?
– There would not be much point in that now, because the question is already on the noticepaper.
– It will remain on the noticepaper until it is answered.
– The Treasurer can frame an answer that will have the effect of removing it from the noticepaper. In regard to questions generally, and particularly questions of this kind,I regret having to discourage honorable members who so often exhibit a good deal of ingenuity in framing them, but the standing order is quite clear, and provides that no matter of opinion or argument must be introduced into a question. The question to which the honorable member has drawn attention obviously transgresses that standing order, and a question that will not be allowed in the House should not be placed on the noticepaper.
– I understand that proposals were being considered by the previous Government for the production of aluminium by an Australian company from Australian bauxite. Has that project been advanced during recent weeks!
– It has been advanced to the stage that it is now under my direct consideration, and I hope that I may be able to make an announcement regarding it within the next fortnight.
– Has the Prime Minister yet had an opportunity to consider the report of the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee on its investigations in Queensland? If not, seeing that the investigation covered matters affecting a number of departments, will he have the report dissected and submitted to the respective Ministers? If, on this occasion, the Minister considers it necessary to have the advice of experts on matters commented upon in the report, will he have the pronouncements of those experts submitted to the members of the committee before the Government comes to a decision?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “ No “ ; the answer to the second and third parts is “ Yes “.
– by leave - I announce to the House the present personnel of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee, viz.: - Mr. Coles (chairman), Mr. Harrison, Mr. James, Mr. Rosevear, Mr. Sheehan, and Senator Sampson.
– Will the Prime Minister state the policy of the Government in regard to the Coal Commission set up by the previous Administration.
– A consultation will take place to-morrow on this matter, and I hope afterwards to be able to announce what the position will then be. Unless the Coal Commission’s powers are extended it will pass out of existence by the end of this week. As is well known, consultations had taken place between the previous Minister for Supply and Development and the Coal Miners Federation, with myself acting as intermediary, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) actively engaged. Those discussions had reached a very satisfactory stage, and a general basis of agreement between the Government and the unions had been reached regarding the regulations. Unfortunately, other developments occurred in respect of matters affecting government administration, and the federation, considering itself involved, intimated that, until these matters were settled it would not be ready to discuss the regulations. However, as I have said, discussions will be resumed to-morrow, and I do not expect any difficulty to arise to prevent a satisfactory solution of the problem. The matter is very urgent.
Motion (by (Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Conelan and Mr. Lawson be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on War Expenditure.
That Mr. Morgan be appointed to serve on such committee.
That the Senate be asked to appoint an additional member of the Senate to serve on the committee.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the Senate by message.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Barnard be the chairman of the Joint Committee on Social Security in place of Mr. Perkins, resigned as chairman.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Watkins be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Profits.
That the Senate be asked to appoint an additional member of the Senate to serve on the committee.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the Senate by message.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Frost and Mr. Scully be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
That Mr. Baker and Mr. Langtry be appointed to serve on such committee.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the Senate by message.
– I wish to avail myself of the standing order that relates to what is known as a “ personal explanation “. On Friday last in this chamber - I had not the misfortune to hear it myself, but I have verified the facts - the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), in a farrago of personalities directed against Labour and non-Labour members alike, selected me, without provocation or excuse, as the object of some slanderous imputations. I shall deal first with the less important feature of his misrepresentations. The honorable member suggested that my non-inclusion in the present Government was because of my ill health; that was the reason to be inferred, why the country had been saved from my devastating influence as a member of the present Government. On that point, I wish to say that, thanks to Divine Providence, I am enjoying excellent health. I hope that the honorable member for Adelaide is equally blessed. On the more important aspect of his reflections upon myself, he stated that in this chamber, not long ago, he heard me refer to the British Fleet as a “ lot of pirates “. My reply is that he did not hear me speak those words, because I never uttered them. Never, at any place, have I uttered words capable of being intelligently construed as meaning what is implied in that phrase. The allegation of the honorable member is entirely the fruit of a dull and disordered imagination.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service submit to the House a report showing the number of strikes that have occurred in war industries since the Labour Government took office?
– I am not only prepared to make a statement showing the number of strikes that have occurred since the Labour Government took office, but I shall also show the number that it inherited from the previous Government, and the number that have been successfully concluded. The report will be submitted in the simplest possible form so that the honorable member will be able to understand it.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that persons who have been trained at private engineering schools and colleges have been employed by the Aircraft Production Commission, the Royal Australian Air Force, and other Commonwealth establishments in preference to trainees from the Commonwealth’s technical training schools? Will he say whether these private schools charge fees frequently exceeding £2:5 for the course which the trainees undergo? If so, will he see that this condition of affairs is immediately discontinued? Does he con sider that regarding these appointments some influence associated with the “ old school tie “ is at work ?
– The matter, which has been brought to the notice of the Department of Labour and National Service, is now the subject of investigation. The department views it very seriously, and at the earliest possible moment I shall make a statement upon the whole position.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether Mr. Essington Lewis, whom the Government recently appointed to a position on the War Organization Advisory Committee, is the same person as the Director-General of Munitions? If so, in view of the many statements which Government supporters have made in the House about Mr. Lewis, was the Government influenced, in making the appointment, by the words of psalm 118, verses 22 and 23 -
The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
– Order ! That question does not seek to elicit information.
– As six months have elapsed since legal proceedings were first taken against Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited, and three months have passed since the test case was decided, can the Attorney-General inform the House whether further action will be taken regarding the balance of the cases ?
– I dealt with the relevant papers a fortnight ago, when it was decided that further proceedings against the company should be taken.
– -In order to assist and stabilize Australia’s finances for the war effort and to remove existing taxation anomalies in the States, will the Treasurer begin now a further investigation of the unification of taxation in the Commonwealth generally, so that, if possible, such a scheme may be introduced before the 1st July, 1942, which is the commencement of the next financial year?
– Whilst the matter will receive consideration, it involves Government policy and must be determined as such.
– According to the Minister for Works in New South Wales, the Australian Shipbuilding Board has refused to recommend a site at Newcastle for the purpose of shipbuilding. Will the Minister for Munitions comment now on this decision, or will he obtain from the board a report on the subject, and make it available to me as early as possible ?
– I understand that the Australian Shipbuilding Board has been in communication with the Government of New South Wales concerning a site at Newcastle known as “ Dyke End “. The object is to use such facilities as are available there first for the manufacture of engine auxiliaries for certain ships which lack power units, and, secondly, for effecting repairs to ships. When the opportunity arises, the board may recommend to the Government that the yard should be used for the construction of ships. I am sure that the Government would give to such a recommendation its sympathetic consideration.
– I lay on the tables-
Hire Purchase and Cash Order Systems - Reports (2) of Board of Inquiry appointed under National Security (Inquiries) Regulations.
Ordered to be printed.
– Is the Treasurer at present framing regulations designed to restrict cashorder and hirepurchase business? If so, arc the regulations being based upon the reports which he tabled today?
– The Government is giving consideration to the recommendations contained in the reports of that board. When that consideration has been concluded, a statement will be made.
– Will the Minister for War Organization of Industry take advantage of the vast experience in the management of monopolies of Mr. Essington Lewis, general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and member of the Advisory Committee on War Organization of Industry, for the purpose of inquiring into the advisability of the Government’s assuming control of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for the duration of the war as foreshadowed by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) when he was deputy leader of the then Opposition ?
– The question of whether the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited should be taken over by the Government must be determined as a matter of government policy. In the consideration of this matter, if it be considered, it is unlikely that Mr. Essington Lewis will be consulted.
– Has the Minister for the Army noticed in the press recently an account of the escape of certain Australian prisoners of war from Benghazi and their statement that they were compelled by the Italians to work long hours on harbour, road and other works, and that other Australian prisoners of war were similarly compelled to work under Germans and Italians ? Has the Minister yet determined whether Italian and other prisoners of war in this country shall be required to do a reasonable amount of work for their maintenance, or are the short man-power resources of this country to be depleted for the purpose of guarding and feeding those prisoners?
– I did see the reports in the press and I had an immediate investigation made as to their truthfulness. Up to the present I have not been able to substantiate what appeared in the newspapers. If Australian or other prisoners of war were used in the way stated their employment contravened the Hague Convention. The question of using prisoners of war to carry out work in this country is not new ; on two occasions it was before the previous Government of which the honorable member for Richmond was a member, and that Government decided not to use prisoners of war.
– That is not correct.
– The whole question will be fully considered by this Government when it has an opportunity to do so.
– by leave - Three additional wheat-growers’ representatives have been appointed to the Australian Wheat Board. They are Mr. M. R. Bourke, of Mendooran, New South Wales; Mr. J. H. Cavanagh, of Curlewis, New South Wales; and Mr. A. C. Everett, of Brim, Victoria. These appointments are made in accordance with the Government’s policy of granting adequate representation to primary producers on all war-time marketing boards.
– In view of the statement made by the Minister for the Army recently in his attack upon Mr. Cullen, that Mr. Cullen was not elected to the Australian Wheat Board by the wheatgrowers of Victoria, will the Minister for Commerce inform me whether the three men whom he has mentioned as having been appointed to the Wheat Board were elected by the wheat-growers, or were appointed in consideration of services rendered to the Government?
– The men who have been appointed as the growers’ representatives to the Wheat Board are the heads of the wheat-growers’ organizations in their respective States.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it is the intention of the Government to add more members of the Wheat-growers Federation to the Australian Wheat Board as representatives of the farmers? Seeing that the recent appointments gave to the New South Wales growers a total of three representatives, will he also give to Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia three representatives each, making twelve growers’ representatives in all? Is it a fact that the recently appointed growers’ representatives are receiving the same remuneration as the other growers’ representatives, namely, £500 per annum?
– It is the intention of the Government to reconstitute the Australian Wheat Board. When such action is taken the proposals of the honorable member will be considered. The appointments recently made are temporary. The new members are receiving a daily fee and travelling expenses, but not a fixed salary.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether, when the Government is considering the reconstruction of the Australian Wheat Board, it will give some thought to the inclusion on the board of representatives of the licensed receivers? I should also like to know whether consideration will be given to the making of a temporary appointment to represent the wheat agents who have so much to do with the handling of the farmer’s wheat ?
– 1 recognize the importance of the point raised by the honorable member. In the past the wheat agents have, perhaps, not received the consideration from the Australian Wheat Board to which they were entitled. I shall call the attention of the board to the point. I also assure the honorable member that when the reconstruction of the board is receiving attention his proposal will be considered.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen the statement in the Melbourne press of the 10th November that according to the General Officer Command the Home Forces, LieutenantGeneral Sir Iven Mackay, members of the Australian Imperial Force abroad desire that the reserved occupations list should be suspended in order to overcome the present hobbled system of voluntary recruiting? What is the attitude of the Government to the reported view of Lieutenant-General Sir Iven Mackay?
– The report of LieutenantGeneral Sir Iven Mackay’ s speech has not been brought to my notice, but I shall call for it in order that the Government may consider it.
– Is Mr. E. V. Nixon, chartered accountant, of Melbourne, who has been appointed by the Treasurer to examine cases of hardship under the taxa- tion provisions of the budget, also the accountant and consultant for a number of large commercial and financial institutions and concernswhich will be affected by the Government’s proposals? If so, in view of the fact that Mr. Nixon may be called on to deal with claims of hardship of firms and persons affected by the activities of big monopolies, which, influenced the policy of previous governments, will the Treasurer consider the revocation of Mr. Nixon’s appointment?
– Mr. E. V. Nixon, the chartered accountant, who has been appointed chairman of the sub-committee which deals with certain phases of the financial provisions contained in the budget, is Director of Finance for the Ministry of Munitions. I am unable to say the extent of his private business or the sphere in which he operates. The sub-committee has been asked to devise a formula which will prevent the infliction of the undue hardship of double taxation on the taxpayers, but it will not determine matters of government policy.
– Mr. Nixon is one of the best men in Australia for that job.
– I agree.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he has studied the annual report and balance-sheet of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and whether its payment of a 10 per cent, dividend and its setting aside of about £100,000 for depreciation bear the approval of the government directors on that institution, more than half of the share capital of which is owned by the Government? I further ask the Treasurer whether the saying “charity begins at home”, and the injunction “physician, heal thyself”, do not apply to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited?
– Ihave not had time to read that report, but I thank the honorable member for having drawn my attention to it. I shall study it at the earliest opportunity.
– by leave - I desire to in form the House that the Government has appointed Mr. Edward Harold Bourne, Chief Inspector of Telegraphs, Postma ster-General’s Department, as a Government representative on the directorate of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited in place of the late exSenator J. D. Millen.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that the officer in charge of the Dental Corps of the Eastern Command works only part time but receives full pay, and whether it is also a fact that the other officers in the Dental Corps are allowed afternoons off in order to continue their private practices in Macquariestreet? If those are facts, will the Minister inquire into ways and means of improving the efficiency of the corps by ensuring that its members shall work full time?
– I was not aware of the information which the honorable member has given to the House, but I shall have the matter investigated and reply to his question as soon as possible.
SirCHARLES MARR.- I ask the Prime Minister whether he noted in the press of last Monday a report that the Government of Canada had decided to mobilize the whole of the man-power resources of Canada so that men employed in sheltered industries would work on the same terms as soldiers serving overseas? Will the Prime Minister consider the question of applying to industrial workers in Australia the same terms as are applied to Australian soldiers ?
– I have not seen the report which the honorable gentleman mentioned. The rates of pay for soldiers have been dealt with by the Government ; the rates of pay for other sections of the community are dealt with by the Arbitration authorities. The honorable gentleman asks me to fix a common rate of pay for men who are serving overseas and those who are at home; I shall take the matter into consideration.
– I ask the Minister for War Organization of Industry whether Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. A. Massey who, according to a recent announcement, has been appointed by the Government a member of the advisory committee set up under the Department of War Organization of Industry, is the chairman of directors of W. D. andH. O. Wills (Australia) Limited, a director of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited, a former prominent member of the New Guard in New South Wales, and the gentleman who has recently been shed by the Department of Supply and Development by the appointment of another person to take his place? Can the Minister say what provision has been made for the appointment to this advisory committee of somebody to represent the workers?
– The advisory committee which has just been established consists of technical experts, and the gentleman mentioned by the honorable member has been appointed to the committee because of his technical knowledge.
– Of what?
– His technical knowledge as Director of Supply. I am not aware that he has been superseded as Director of Supply. With reference to the latter part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I understand that the Labour view regarding technical aspects of the employment of labour is represented on the committee by the Director of Man-power Priorities.
– Who is that?
- Mr. Wallace Worth. He is the chairman of the Man-power Priorities Board, which consists, I believe, of three gentlemen, one of whom is a representative of the Labour movement,
– I ask the Minister for Munitions whether the recent strike at Lithgow has yet ended? If so, how long did it last, and what were the terms of settlement?
– The industrial dispute that existed at Lithgow was settled several weeks ago. I shall be glad if the honorable gentleman will give notice of the remainder of his question.
– In view of the statement published in this morning’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald that the Government is likely to appoint Mr. W. C. Taylor, a Sydney solicitor, to the Commonwealth Bank Board in succession to Mr. Drummond, a representative of the primary producers, I ask the Treasurer whether the Government will appoint another representative of the primary industries, instead of a city solicitor ? Also, will the Government give consideration to the appointment of a Western Australian representative to the Bank Board in view of the special problems of that State which do not arise elsewhere?
– With regard to the vacancy on the Commonwealth Bank Board, I believe that the Prime Minister will make a statement on the subject today, if he has not already done so. With regard to Western Australian representation on the Bank Board, I assure the honorable member that the matter will be taken into consideration.
– by leave - I announce to honorable members that the Government has appointed Mr. William Clarke Taylor to be a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board in place of Mr. Drummond, whose term of office is about to expire.
Situation in the Pacific - Proposal for Addresses by Mr. Duff Cooper and Sir Thomas Blamey.
– Having regard to the general concern that exists in Australia as to the position in the Pacific, particularly with regard to the activities of the Axis Power located in that region, is the Minister for External Affairs in a position to make a statement to the House on the subject now or at an early date?
– In answer to the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) the other day, I expressed the hope that an opportunity would be given to honorable members to discuss these matters before the end of this sessional period. I shall take the honorable member’s suggestion into consideration and see whether, if a debate cannot take place, statements can be made in order to supply such information as it is possible to give to honorable members.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the valuable information which they could give to private members of Parliament, arrangements could be made for Mr. Duff Cooper and Sir Thomas Blarney, who are at present in Australia, to address honorable members either at an informal meeting of the Parliament or at a secret session at which honorable members could ask questions relating to matters affecting the war?
- Mr. Duff Cooper was present at a meeting of the Advisory War Council, and Sir Thomas Blarney was present at another meeting of the council. I shall take the honorable member’s suggestion into consideration.
– In view of the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs in reply to a question asked by me in this House recently concerning the Government’s policy on newsprint rationing, that as a principle of government policy there should be no discrimination against any particular industry, will the Prime Minister advise the House as to whether we may expect a reduction of the 80 per cent, restrictions on motor chassis, the 70 per cent, restriction on oregon, the complete embargo on case timbers, and the restrictions on 1,200 other category classifications, to the same level as that enjoyed by newsprint?
– In matters of this kind it is not the practice to announce what the Government intends to do at some distant date. The answer to the honorable gentleman’s question therefore is “No”.
– In view of the answer of the Prime Minister to my previous question to the effect that the Government did not intend to give-
– What I said was. that the Government did not intend to make any announcement now.
– Apparently there has been a misunderstanding. If the Prime Minister did not answer my previous question with a definite “ No “ I shall not need to ask this question.
– The honorable gentleman asked whether the Government intended to announce certain variations of the tariff. I said that it did not.
– I did not so understand the Prime Minister. In order to clear up the position I ask the honorable gentleman whether, if the Government does not intend to give equality of treatment to certain industries-
– I rise to order. The question of the honorable member for Wentworth arises out of a previous question and an elementary rule is that it is not in order to ask a question based on an earlier question.
– The rule is not quite so elementary as that. Questions are permitted to clarify issues raised by a previous question. It is, of course, not in order for honorable members to ask questions based on previous questions in such a. way as practically to constitute a cross-examination of a Minister. The question which the honorable member for Wentworth is asking is permissible.
– Does not the Prime Minister consider that the attitude indicated by his reply to my previous question amounts to discrimination of the worst kind-
– Order ! That, definitely, is not a proper question.
Mr.CURTIN - The honorable member has entirely misconstrued my previous answer.
– Is the Minister for Home Security able to inform the House whether the Government has considered introducing legislation in the near future in order to provide for the compensation of Air Raid Precautions workers who may he injured in the course of their training, or by enemy action inthe event of air raids occurring in Australia?
– As the honorable gentleman is aware, the Commonwealth accepted responsibility, at a conference which was held some time ago, for the injury of home security workers in time of peace, the responsibility to be borne by the Repatriation Department in respect of injuries sustained in the event of war activities in this country. The War Cabinet is at present considering the position, and the Government hopes to do something about it before the end of the current sessional period.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the recent dispute involving the ironworkers at Cockatoo Dockyard has been settled? If not, what is the present position?
Mr.WARD- I take it that the honorable member refers to the question of the line of demarcation between coppersmiths and plumbers. The Commonwealth Labour Government took appropriate action to have an immediate inquiry made into the dispute which, I am advised, has now been settled.
– Is the Minister for the Army in a position to indicate when the members of the Volunteer Defence Corps in Tasmania will be supplied with the rifles and equipment necessary for their training?
– Instructions have been issued that rifles and other equipment are to be supplied to the Volunteer Defence Corps as soon as practicable. I have called for a report as to when it is likely that rifles will be available for this organization.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he is correctly reported in this morning’s press as having said in hisbroadcast on the subject of reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force -
Our Army must be supported with all the reinforcements it needs. More men must volunteer to serve with the Australian Imperial Force. I give you my word that I am not “ crying wolf “ when I say that the Army of the Australian nation needs men if this nation is to live.
If the Minister is correctly reported I congratulate him on his statement. I ask the honorable gentleman also whether volunteers are coming forward in sufficient numbers to satisfy the requirements of the Australian Imperial Force abroad, and particularly of the General Officer Commanding in the Middle East, Sir Thomas Blarney? If sufficient numbers of men are not coming forward what steps does the Government propose to take to remedy the position?
– I was correctly reported and my statement was in accordance with the policy of this Government that adequate equipment and reinforcements are to be provided. The men required for the Australian Imperial Force will be obtained under the voluntary system, which I believe will provide sufficient men. The Labour Government is pledged to the voluntary system and so was the previous Government until a few weeks ago.
– Apparently, the Minister for the Army missed the point of my question, because he omitted to supply me with the information that I really need, namely, whether the number of volunteers for enlistment in order to supply reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force is sufficiently large to satisfy the requirements of General Blarney, General Officer Commanding the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East. If volunteers are not coming forward in sufficient number, has the honorable gentleman in view any plan with which to meet the situation?
– I am quite confident that, under the voluntary system of enlistment, a sufficient number of recruits will be forthcoming adequately to maintain reinforcements for the Australian Imperial Force.
CO-operation of services.
– Is the Minister for the Army able to give to honorable members any information in elaboration of the report that has appeared in the newspapers concerning the results of the conference of service Ministers and chiefs on the subject of the pooling of recruits ?
– A conference on recruiting was held in Melbourne and was attended by the Minister for Air (Mr.
Drakeford) and myself, and also by the chiefs of staffs of the various services or their representatives. The whole subject of the supply of recruits for the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Imperial Force and the Royal Australian Air Force was considered. There have been some differences of opinion in regard to the propaganda methods of the directors-general of recruiting for the Army and the Air Force, but I believe that, as a result of the decision of the conference to appoint a committee to investigate the whole subject, any misunderstandings which have previously existed will be overcome, and that an amicable arrangement will be made between the Australian Imperial Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, which are the two services principally concerned.
– I ask the Prime Minis ter whether the Government contemplates the re-appointment of Sir George Pearce to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for a further term of five years? If so, will the honorable gentleman state whether there is not a loyal Labour man in Western Australia who could suitably represent that State on such an important commission, instead of having on it a Labour renegade of the type of Sir George Pearce?
Mr.CURTIN.- The Government gave consideration to the proper composition of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and, as the Treasurer has announced, decided to appoint Professor Mills, of Sydney, as chairman, because of his high qualifications, and to renew the appointment of Dr. Wood, of Melbourne, and Sir George Pearce. The Government took the view that these gentlemen would make a perfectly competent commission to do the work with which the Commonwealth Grants Commission is entrusted.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That Government business shall take pre cedence over general business tomorrow.
Consideration resumed from the 7th November (vide page 220), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates (Revised) under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “Salaries and Allowances, £8,470,” be agreed to.
.- Two or three years ago, we could not have envisaged a budget providing for an expenditure in one year of £325,000,000, £217,000,000 of which would be devoted to purposes of defence. Times have changed. I shall not criticize the amount which the Government proposes to expend on munitions, but I do take exception to the methods that are proposed for the raising of the money. The Government has decided, as a votecatching proposition, to exempt from increased taxation persons who are in receipt of an income of £400 a year or less. The budget brought forward by the previous Administration proposed to take a total of £10,000,000 from those taxpayers. That was a very small amount, in view of the fact that their aggregate annual income exceeds £560,000,000. I believe that taxpayers in the lower income groups would be quite prepared to contribute a fair proportion of the cost of the defence of this country, and would not have cavilled at the additional taxation then proposed. The great majority of them realize that, in view of the threat to not only this country but also the Empire as a whole, they have to make sacrifices in common with taxpayers who are in receipt of much larger incomes. I do not object to the amount which the Government proposes to take from persons who have very large incomes, because I believe that they have the most to lose, and therefore should he prepared to contribute at a higher rate. I differ from the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), who suggested that both Commonwealth and State income taxes actually paid by a taxpayer should be an allowable deduction in the computation of assessable income. If that were the case, taking the average tax paid by men who are in receipt of £40,000 a year, the amount of tax this year would be £34,129, leaving an income of £5,871. Next year, tax would be paid on that £5,S71 and would amount to £3,700, which would leave a spendable income of £2,171, in addition to the allowable deduction of £34,130. Thus, the man on £40,000 would be allowed next year an income of £36,201. That is the proposal of a Labour man who said that he would attack the men who have big incomes; he would take one good bite this year, and leave the income practically intact next year. Those who have an income of £40,000 a year must be prepared to make an adequate payment for the defence of not only themselves personally, but also the assets that they hold. A considerable amount of the defence expenditure to which Australia is committed is caused by our having been asked to act as an arsenal for New Zealand, the East, and our own forces in the Near East. Much of that outlay will be returned to Australia in payment for the munitions provided, and, in addition, this country will benefit by the establishment of industries for the production of its own arms, which will give to it a degree of safety it did not previously possess, in the event of its being attacked. A German Admiral recently urged Japan to attack Australia. In view of this and similar statements, we must be prepared to sacrifice everything in order to ensure our safety. Our young men must be ready and willing not only to fight in Australia, but also to reinforce the Australian Imperial Force wherever it may be stationed. It is unthinkable that Australia should allow the conditions to arise which arose during the last war in 1917 and 1918, when many battalions were reduced to half their original strength, and still continued to do the work of a battalion in the field and to suffer a battalion’s casualties.
– Whose fault was that?
– The fault of many Labour men, who encouraged young men to stay at home instead of doing their duty.
One could hardly have believed, even twelve months ago, that in such a short period Australia would be producing Bren gun carriers, guns, and ammunition on the present scale. Notwithstanding that huge production, however, we are still ill-equipped for our defence in Australia. The Australian Imperial Force must be given priority. of armament and every aid that science can devise, in order that it may attack the tremendously strong and utterly ruthless foe to which it is opposed, but a proportion of what is left after the Australian Imperial Force is equipped must be retained in Australia until our Militia Forces are fully armed. The time has passed when we could say “ This armament is wanted in India ; there will be an engagement in that country before there is one in Australia “. We must arm our own people. I would give to New Zealand equal priority with Australia. The order that I suggest is, the Australian Imperial Force first, Australia and New Zealand second. Production above those requirements could be sent elsewhere. The Government should decide the proportion of production which it is necessary to keep in Australia. My view is that 25 per cent, of it should be held until a reasonable quantity of equipment was available for home needs.
– Even if England asked for it?
– Yes. I consider that we ave entitled to keep a reasonable quantity. I participated in the manoeuvres which took place in Victoria last week. The units engaged in the “ battle “ of Corangamite were not completely equipped, and some of the equipment was received only at the last minute, with the result that the troops were not acquainted with it.
The proposal is being mooted that men should be trained at home at night and during week-ends instead of being sent into camp. Any one who has been a soldier knows that it would be utterly impossible to get men into fighting condition in such circumstances. They have to be in a camp, where they are under constant discipline, drilled, given physical training, and where they can obtain a knowledge of the use of their arms, if they are to be made fit to take the field against such armies as are raised to-day. I urge the Government not in any circumstances to alter the present system. If the suggested proposal be adopted, the home forces will be rendered ineffective for the defence of Australia. It is absolutely essential that training be carried out under active service conditions. Although Bren gun carriers and many other munitions are now being produced rapidly, we are still short of a number of items of equipment. Our signals are not effective yet, and we are short of motor cycles, anti-tank guns and antiaircraft weapons.
– This is giving information to the enemy.
– Does the honorable member think that the enemy is not as well aware of it as we are?
– Who tells him except the honorable member himself?
– I have heard the honorable member for ‘Griffith make similar statements. We must continue the production of these articles until our forces here in Australia are reasonably well equipped. We have in our Air Force a magnificent body of men, but I believe that a tremendous amount of money is being wasted on the Air Force. I urge the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) to inquire why it takes approximately £1,000 a man to house members of the Air Force, as compared with £7, £8, or £10 for each member of the Army.
– The honorable member’s figures are not correct.
– Those figures were given to me in good faith, and I believe that they are approximately correct. There is a tremendous difference between the accommodation provided for members of the Air Force and that provided for members of the other services.
We have, both in the Air Force and in the Army, men who have had two years’ war experience. Some of them had experience in the last war. It is high time that the Government, as a matter of policy, decided to bring back some of our own soldiers to teach our forces the latest war methods. It should do this instead of accepting men from the Old Country, many of whom are sent because they are not wanted there. They were of no value in their own country, and they are sent here and paid salaries almost double those paid to members of our own forces holding equivalent ranks. Moreover, they are paid, not in Australian currency, but in sterling, and thus receive the benefit of the exchange rate of 25 per cent. Many of our men who have served for two years in the desert in North Africa are now, because of ill health, unable to continue on active service, but they are fit enough to train our young Australians in modern methods of war.
The proposal of the last Government to institute a system of compulsory saving was one of the most constructive that has been put forward in Australia for a long time. It was proposed under this scheme to take £6,000,000 a year from those receiving the smaller incomes, and to repay it to them after the war. It is generally regarded as inevitable that there will be an economic reaction during the post-war period when the munitions factories will, for the most part, be closed down, and when the war industries will cease to operate. We shall be very lucky then if we escape a depression. At such a time, compulsory savings would be of great assistance to the poorer people, and to those in receipt of small incomes. I am extremely sorry that the present Government abandoned the idea.
I urge upon the Treasurer the justice of allowing mining calls to be regarded as a deduction from income for taxation purposes. The gold-mining industry has been of great assistance to Australia during this war. It must be remembered that even those mines that are paying are a. wasting asset. Many hundreds of thousands of pounds has been expended within the last two years upon the search for gold, in some cases without any, results, and in other cases with very small results. Employment has been provided for many workers. Calls paid to mining companies in Victoria amounted to £221,000 for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, and for the rest of Australia calls amounted to only £95,500. Of the amount of £221,000 paid in Victoria no less than £160,000 was paid in Bendigo and the surrounding area. We know that the Government must raise all the revenue it can; I do not object to that, but because goldmining is of so speculative a nature, more consideration i3 due to it than to other and safer industries if people are to be induced to invest in it. Gold-mining is a great national industry, and will assist the Government to finance the war effort. I urge the Government to give the matter very serious consideration before deciding to disallow mining calls as a deduction from income.
The development of the aluminium industry in Australia has been discussed for many years, and I urge the Government to give the matter its immediate consideration. In recent years, production has been in the hands of one huge combine operating throughout the world. The necessary raw material is present in Australia, and I urge the Government, having regard to the great value of aluminium for defence purposes, to do its utmost to establish the industry in this country.
I appeal to the Government for more generous treatment of those in charge of non-official post offices. The person in charge of one such office, which serves 150 families, receives for his services only 18s. 2d. a week. The main reason in his case for the small remuneration is that, although the incoming mail is fairly heavy, the outgoing mail is small. This, in turn, is due to the fact that a letter posted there at 3 o’clock in the afternoon does not leave until the next day. People can give their letters to the butcher, or the baker or the cream carter to be posted in the next town, and they will be delivered in Melbourne at the first delivery next morning. In view of the fact that the Post Office last year had a revenue of £21,000,000 and earned a profit of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, it can afford to treat its employees fairly. Those in charge of non-official post offices are giving service to the public, but many of them are at present being sweated.
I desire to impress upon the Government the urgent need for converting some of our important strategic railway lines to the standard gauge. There is a very strong advocate of this policy in the Government at the present time in the person of the Minister for Air. I trust that, now he is in the Ministry, he will not, as many other men have done in similar circumstances, forget about his favourite subject. I hope that he will force the Government to take the necessary action. Although I am a Victorian, I believe, so serious is the need, that the railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill should be converted to the standard gauge without delay. That work should not be deferred until the war is over. The Government should also construct a standard gauge line from Tocumwal to Seymour, which is within easy distance of the great munitions industries of Victoria. With such a line in existence it would be possible to reinforce the defence of the eastern coast, which would be vulnerable in the event of an attack by Japan. At the present time, it is almost impossible to move forces from South Australia and Victoria to the eastern coast in reasonable time.
Federal governments have, in the past, evaded their responsibility in regard to water conservation. With the exception of the River Murray waters scheme, practically nothing has been done by the Commonwealth in. this direction. Water conservation is of such importance that it should be dealt with by the national government. In particular, the head works of conservation undertakings should be the responsibility of the Commonwealth Parliament, which should provide the necessary finance. In conjunction with the States, a comprehensive survey should be made to determine the possibilities of water conservation throughout the continent. Such undertakings would provide work for an immense number of people after the war, and would enable us to settle the immigrants who, I believe, will come here in great numbers after the war. Tens of thousands of our own people from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as many others from northern Europe, will want to get away from the age-old hatreds of Europe. Women will not want to rear families in Europe where, at any moment, they may be attacked and blasted out of existence. They will prefer to come to a country like Australia where there is some prospect of safety.
If this Government had sufficient courage to bring forward a policy for the conscription of man-power, wealth and industry, the people of Australia would accept it with open arms. For the proper defence of Australia there should undoubtedly be conscription of manpower.
– We have it now.
– I do not mean conscription for the fighting services only. I mean that if a man is a good wheat grower, he should be set to growing wheat, and if he is a good engineer he should be employed as an engineer.
– The honorable member means industrial conscription?
– Yes. Why should young men be conscripted for the fighting services, while industrial workers escape? Why should the man of wealth be conscripted, while the man employed in industry is not? I would conscript everybody and everything for the period of the war, because that is the only way in which we can make a satisfactory war effort. ‘
The time has come when there should be a revaluation of primary assets. Owing to a long succession of bad seasons, and because of the fiscal policy of Australia, there are many thousands of primary producers in such a position that it is impossible for them ever to recover financially.
– That is largely due to mal-administration by previous governments?
– Yes, to the fiscal policy forced on this country, and supported by the Labour party?
– Where would Australia be now without the industries which were established under that fiscal policy?
– Does the honorable member mean that there should be a reduction of interest rates ?
– Yes, that will have to come, and it can be done through a mortgage bank. We must also have a revaluation of assets, and a practical scheme similar to that which the Closer Settlement Commission of Victoria administers, in order to afford to returned soldiers and migrant settlers an opportunity successfully to make a home for themselves and their families.
Replying to a question about the price of superphosphate, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) virtually repeated an answer which was given by his predecessor (Sir Earle Page), that the Commonwealth Government was contributing 25s. a ton towards the increased cost of this fertilizer. As the increase was caused by war conditions, the matter concerns the whole community, and consequently the burden should not be borne by only one section of it. If the Government does not meet the whole of the increased cost, production will inevitably decrease, and pastures will languish through lack of adequate manuring.
The Commonwealth Government should take up with the British Government the matter of prices for the Australian wool clip in order to ensure that, in future, woolgrowers will receive one half of the increased returns. At present, big manufacturers in England wash the wool, describe it as “ tops “, and sell it abroad for substantially higher prices than those at which they purchased it. Australian wool-growers are entitled to receive some of those profits.
– Is not the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) discussing that matter with the British Government?
– I believe that he is. Members of the present Government have suddenly experienced a great change of heart towards Australia’s participation in the war. They now assert that they will reinforce the Australian Imperial Force abroad, and will not recall the troops to a point nearer to Australia.
– I am opposed to that.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is the only bright star in the firmament. All other members of the Labour party have performed such remarkable somersaults that they deserve employment as acrobats in a J. C. Williamson act. But we could hardly expect the honorable member for Batman to alter his opinions. Speaking on the 5th November, 1939 (vide Hansard, volume 1&2, page 1564), he said -
Our association with the British Navy is an entirely evil one . . . The navy in truth can “0 longer serve any useful purpose, as far as Australia is concerned. I know of no more inveterate fallacy than that which is constantly being reiterated, ad nauseum, that we in Australia are dependent for our safety on the British Navy … As to the need for defending Australia, this country has never been threatened with attack . . . There was never even a suggestion of an attack upon Australia … if we attended to our own business, and bent our best efforts to the maintenance of this country as a bright jewel in the world, free from the entanglements of imperialism
In 1935, when Germany began to re-arm, the honorable member for Batman declared. -
The defence vote for Australia should be substantially and progressive y reduced, instead of being, as suggested by the present Government, calamitously increased . . As to the navy, if it should not be cut out altogether, expenditure upon it should be reduced to the very minimum, for the reasons 1 have mentioned, and because it lias indeed brought us in the pit st into conflict with other Powers. Our land defences might well consist of armaments only, and the harbours of our main cities are comparatively easily defended.
Of course, the honorable member for Batman is renowned as an expert on defence problems ! To him, the defence of a harbour against attacking aircraft is an extremely simple matter. Listening to two speeches that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) recently broadcast, I thought for a moment that Mr. Churchill was appealing to Australian manhood to reinforce the Australian Imperial Force. But on the 29th November, 1939, the Minister for the Army supported an amendment, which was submitted by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), containing these words -
This House is of opinion that Australia’s man-power is required for the defence and safety of the Commonwealth and is opposed to the despatch of expeditionary forces.
– Was that since the outbreak of war?
– That occurred three months after the outbreak of war. Today the Minister for the Army urges young men to reinforce the Australian Imperial Force in order to protect this fair land. I agree with him. But then, “ Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), speaking on the Estimates on the 16th November, 1939, said -
I am firmly of the opinion that, irrespective of how long this war lasts, the boundaries of Poland will not be restored to what they were prior to the commencement of hostilities. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is to adopt the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), namely, that instead of carrying on this stupid conflict that cannot bring benefit to the workers of any country, fl.n effort should be made at the earliest possible moment to summon a conference of the major nations for the purpose of ending it.
– Has the present Prime Minister suggested, a negotiated peace since the outbreak of war?
– Apparently, in view of the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) on the 12th October, 193S, declared -
Personally, .1 would not spend three pence on armament works or on defence works of any kind in Australia.
Replying to an interjection by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who said, “Then why not cease all defence operations?”, the honorable member for Ballarat replied -
I would. J am at least consistent.
Speaking on the Estimates on the 17th September, 1936, the present Minister for Labour and National Service said -
I strongly protest against the expenditure of even one pound of Commonwealth revenue on implements of destruction while it is so difficult to induce the Government to spend anything on schemes for the saving of human life . . . the only people who have anything in this country to-day to defend are the richer sections of the community who live on the cream of the land, and take for themselves everything that is good in life.
On the 5th November, 1936, speaking again on the Estimates, he said -
I should not be prepared to take up arms against the workers of any country, whether they be German or of any other nationality. As a, matter of fact, because 1 am not prepared to do that, I am not prepared to tell others to do so. I believe, and judging by statements made by honorable members on both sides of the committee it seems to be generally agreed, that Australia would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to defend itself ‘against an aggressor.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) stated recently that he was afraid to go to the war. A little later he amended that statement, explaining that he ‘would be afraid to go to the war while the United Australia party-United Country party coalition government was in power. To the honorable member I say that no such obstacle exists to-day. He declared that as he did not trust the previous Government he was not pre.pared to place his future in its hands. Again, I assure him that no bar of that kind now prevents him from enlisting. He is of military age. If he possesses as much courage as he has cheek, he is likely to win the Victoria Cross. There is no reason why the honorable member should not join the reinforcements for which the Minister for the Army and other members of the Government have appealed.
Another supporter of the Government, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), stated on the 29th November, 1939-
I do not believe that the proposal to send men abroad is made as an onn) est of Australia’s support of Britain in this war, because it is obvious to the Government that the Australian Labour party, which represents practically half of the electors, if not more than half of them, is determinedly opposed to the sending of men overseas.
– Were those statements which, the honorable member has quoted made by men who now guarantee an all-in war effort?
– Yes. The Minister for the Army, on the 29th November, 1839, endorsed the following statement : -
– Who prepared this symposium for the honorable member?
– Not being so devoid of common sense as is the honorable member for Batman, I am quite able to prepare my own speeches. The present
Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley), when sitting in opposition, asked -
Is it possible that the Government is playing the enemy’s game in seeking to deplete Australia of its man-power?
Indeed, members of the present Government have experienced a sudden change of heart. In spite of the fact that some members of the Government have done a remarkable back somersault which would entitle them to an engagement with J. C. Williamson and Company Limited if they stand by the statements they now make and reinforce the Australian Imperial Force and keep it up to strength, make an all-in war effort, and retain sufficient munitions and equipment in Australia to make our home forces efficient, I shall have no quarrel with the Government, although I have had much pleasure in digging up the “sticky” past of some of its members and supporters. The time has come when labels such as “ Labour Government “, “ Nationalist Government “ or “ Coalition Government” should be done away with; irrespective of its composition the only government for Australia to-day is the King’s government. It is the duty of this Parliament and of the people of Australia as a whole to support the Government with men, money, munitions and supplies to do everything possible to achieve the final victory which is essential for the liberty of not only Australia, but also the whole world.
– I compliment the Government on what it has achieved in the short space of time which has elapsed since it took office. In little more than a month it has done things which the previous Government could not, and would not have done, in 100 years. The first thing on which I compliment the Government is its decision to repay part of the debt which is owed to the old-age pensioners, the trailblazers of this fair land, by increasing the rate of the old-age pension. I also compliment the Government on having decided to increase the invalid pension and the pay of the soldiers. The Government is to be commended for having derided to transfer the financial burden occasioned by the war from the shoulders of the poorest classes of the people, to the shoulders of those Whose wealth enables them to bear it. Actions speak louder than words, and it is refreshing to see the words of the previous Administra/tion give way to the actions of the present Ministry. The new Government has already done great deeds in curtailing the profits of the profiteers and in repairing many of the blunders committed under the petrol rationing scheme instituted by the previous Government which placed the country people of Australia at a very grave disadvantage. The Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) has shown an understanding of the position of people in the rural districts, transcending that of all members of past governments. The Minister for Supply and Development, who recognizes that primary production is the back-bone of the nation, has given to primary producers the right to buy petrol in containers, whereas, under the previous Administration, they were almost unable to buy petrol even by the gallon.
In the ten years or so in which governments composed of members of the parties opposite did nothing but wrong; yet members of the Opposition now have the temerity to tell the Labour Government what it ought to do. For instance, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) referred to the necessity for the Commonwealth to embark upon a policy of water conservation and irrigation, whereas he ought to have directed his admonition on that score to the previous administrations. I know as much about irrigation as does anybody in this country and I take this opportunty to rebuke the Opposition for not having in the years it was in office used the waters that now run to waste in the sea for the improvement and intensification of agricultural industry. Last Sunday I, with residents of Griffith, conducted the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) on a tour of the Mumimbidgee irrigation area, and I showed to them one of the leading orange groves in the Griffith district, one which consists of 140 acres and has its own grading and packing shed. They also saw rice farms and vineyards in profuse production. Later we returned to visit my home town of Barellan, only a few miles away. In travelling that distance they went from Paradise to desolation and were amazed at the contrast between two pieces of country, one in high production, because of irrigation, and the other sparsely settled, with many farms deserted and with the remainder overburdened by debt, all because of the lack of water. It is the policy of this Government to develop our resources of water, and I have no doubt that in the course of time the application of that policy will result in hundreds and hundreds of square miles of now desolate land being brought into full production. In contrast to the policy of this Government in that respect is the fact that the former Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) refused to the Premier of New South Wales sufficient money to enable his Government to complete an irrigation scheme which has been advocated for 45 years. I have in my possession letters which will prove the truth of that statement. Water is the lifeblood of a nation. Because of the absence of water the living standards of many Australian people is hardly above that of coolies.
Before becoming a member of Parliament, an honour which I never thought would be mine, it was my practice to make notes of the sayings of prominent people, and I shall take the opportunity provided by this debate to place as briefly as possible before honorable members some of the notes I made, because they are worthy of quoting here. The Duke of Windsor showed great vision when he said -
If the paradox of millions of people haunted by poverty and demoralized by lack of employment while living in a world rich in actual and potential wealth is to be destroyed, the determination to apply the corrective must never flag.
I am pleased to be able to say that that sentence mirrors the policy of this Government. It was Abraham Lincoln, the greatest democrat ever known, who said -
As a result of war, corporations are enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the republic is destroyed, and again, I feel at the moment more anxiety for the safety of the public than ever before.
The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), as Prime Minister, expressed the opinion of other leaders when he said -
There will never again be in our lifetime extreme riches and poverty. Whatever the outcome of the war, the world as we knew it has gone for ever, and the new world will be _ very unlike the old.
In a later speech the right honorable gentleman said -
We must mortgage the future and prepare for poverty, and what is wrong with poverty?
That is a very encouraging statement for a new order, and it would seem that the former Premier of Hew South “Wales (Mr. Mair) was correct when he said that this talk about a new order was mere piffle. It definitely was piffle with the last Government in office.
Thomas Edison once said that the dynamite of a sound idea worked quickly. The people at present are getting a sound idea as to the fraudulent money system now in operation which works against the interests of the masses. The question at the present time in the minds of the people is, if money carrying interest can be obtained from the private banks why cannot it be obtained from the Commonwealth Bank free of interest ? Many years ago Meyer Rothschild, of the great chain of Jewish banking houses, said - “ Permit me to issue the money of a nation and I care not who makes the laws “. We are beginning to realize, to our cost, the full significance of that statement, and also of that of William Patterson, the Scottish economist and financier, who drew up the plan out of which the so-called “Bank of England” grew. He said, in explaining his scheme at the time, “ The bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing”. Few people, let alone our political leaders, are aware of two facts concerning the financial happenings in England during 1914-18. The Right Honorable T. Johnson, former Lord Privy Seal, says in his book, The Financiers of the Nation - The machinations of the organized money power during the stress of war surely provides the most convincing evidence that the nation must be the sole creator of money and the guardian and banker of the savings and thrift of its citizens, if well-being and security are ever to be the common lot of men.
The facts I am anxious to emphasize are (I) How the people’s Government have in the past come to the rescue of the private banking system in their times of crisis, and (2) How that same system fails to come to the rescue of the people in their hour of need, but rather continues to trade upon their adversity.
The book also exposes the cold-blooded racketeering which was practised in Britain while mere men suffered and died. This record of banker’s patriotism should be a lesson to us in the present calamity. Let Thomas Johnson tell the story -
When the whistle blew for the start of the Great War, in August, 1914, the Bank of England possessed only £9,000,000 sterling of a gold reserve, and as the Bank of England was the bankers’ bank, this sum constituted the effective reserve of all the other banking institutions in Great Britain.
Private enterprise banking thus being on the verge of collapse, the Government (Mr. Lloyd George at the time was Chancellor of the Exchequer) hurriedly declared a moratorium, i.e., it authorized the banks not to pay out (which, in any event, the banks could not do), and it extended the August Bank Holiday for another three days. During these three or four days, when the banks and stock exchanges were closed, the bankers held anxious negotiation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And one of them has placed on record that “he (Lloyd George) did everything that we asked him to do “.
When the banks re-opened the public discovered that, instead of getting their money back in gold, they were paid in a new legal tender of Treasury notes (the fi notes in black and the 10s. notes in red colours). This new currency had been issued by the State, was backed by the credit of the State, and was issued to the banks to prevent the banks from utter collapse. The public cheerfully accepted the new notes and nobody talked about inflation.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mi-. Fadden), in a speech not long ago, said that we were fighting against dictatorship. That is the truth, but the last Government was not fighting against the greatest dictatorship of all, the financial dictatorship, which has every one in thrall. Only out of the Labour party can come those who are determined to end the tyranny of finance. The Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday reported that at the conference which took place on Monday between the Government and the representatives of the banks, the banks had said that they would not like to be termed pawnbrokers, but that is absolutely what they are, and this Government, in this very building, determined to do what no other Government in the history of the world has ever done, namely, to make the banks subservient to the Government instead of the
Government subservient to the banks. The only way in which there can be a new order without the problems of the old is by the Government controlling the monetary and credit systems. I hope that this Government has the courage to continue as it has begun; I have no fear that it will not do so. When it has succeeded in controlling the national credit for the benefit of the people, Australia will be worth living in. I hope also that the same Government will be in charge of Australia’s finances when the black clouds of war have gone, so that the country will be made worthy of the sacrifices of those men who have fought and died for it in the past, and whom we remembered at the Armistice commemoration yesterday, and of those who are even now offering their lives for it. A Government which does not mako proper use of national credit, and which fails to take away the power that is held by the private banks is as helpless as a baby in its cradle. That was the weakness of the Government which was formed by honorable members opposite; it was run by the private financial institutions. It must redound to the credit of this Government that it has been courageous enough to set out on the only course that can save the nation from financial chaos. I am sure that when it has finished its task, all of the points of the Labour party’s policy will have been implemented. Governments will not then have to go begging to the Loan Council in order to obtain money for the completion of railways, post offices, and other public works. Also I believe that our hospitals and asylums will no longer be full of physically and mentally sick men and women, because 90 per cent, of such trouble arises from the mental strain caused by lack of the money which i3 necessary, to provide food for the body, which, in turn, feeds the brain. The fundamental cause of all of our troubles is money - something that is created out of nothing by some remarkable process. Private institutions have monopolized the use of credit for their own profit; they have kept the people poor in order to enrich themselves. This has been proved conclusively. The Gepp Commission found that the two primary industries of Australia owed to the private banking institutions a total of £290,000,000 in respect of the wool and wheat industries alone. There is ‘ only £60,000,000 of currency in Australia, so that the nation must be paying interest on an amount of £230,000,000 that exists only in the form of credits. The people on the land produced real wealth out of a wilderness by their own labour. Having done so, they were asked by the financial institutions virtually to pawn their properties. These institutions are rightly described as pawn shops. I compliment the Government upon having, in its brief period of office, brought the financial institutions to heel, thus reversing the old practice of banks dictating to governments. I hope that next year, when the Government has had more time to deal with its problems in a supplementary budget, the clouds of war will have been dissipated so that peace may once again reign in the great democracies of the world, and our fighting men may return to a country governed democratically in the interests of a people assured of security for all time.
– I have listened with interest to the observations of the last speaker. His remarks referred in the main to our banking system as he sees it, and to expedients for getting something for nothing by creating bank credits - easy money stunts, interestfree loans, victory without debt. His phrases were those that honorable members read daily in correspondence directed to us by people who are illinformed on the subject of national finance. Therefore, I refer the honorable gentleman to one of the few illuminating passages in the budget speech of the Treasurer, and commend it to his consideration : -
Notwithstanding any increased production that can be brought about there must be a switch over of a very large amount of production from civil needs to war’s demands. No amount of entries in the Commonwealth Bank’s books can accomplish this. War needs must come from the collective resources of the community.
They cannot come out of thin air; we cannot get something for nothing. That rebuke which the Treasurer administered to the advocates of easy money is almost the sole redeeming feature of his speech.
This budget, the biggest in the history of Australia, is extremely disappointing; it is utterly impracticable. The Government will never obtain the revenue which it proposes to collect, particularly the sum of £137,000,000 which it expects to derive from voluntary loans. The Government has attempted to placate its followers, instead of making an all-in war effort. This is an election-winning budget, not a war-winning budget. A little over twelve months ago this Parliament was elected at a time when the British Empire was passing through one of the most serious crises in its history. The people elected a Parliament in which the representation of parties was almost equal, independent members holding the balance of power. During the months that have passed since then, our position in the theatre of war, and in the Pacific, lias become most grave. But the Parliament has not been free to put forth a maximum war effort because of the circumstances existing in this chamber. The few utterances that the two independentmembers have made since Parliament was elected have not contained any special reference to the war effort. Those honorable gentlemen do not seem to be equal to the task of exercising wisely the power that unfortunately was given to them as the result of the elections. “With a view to forming a stable government in this country in the time of its greatest danger, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) invited the Labour party, which was then in Opposition, to cooperate with his Government in the formation of a national government. The invitation was rejected; it was repeated again and again, but always it met with a refusal. During all this time the Parliament has had to enact measures representing compromises between the parties. The Advisory War Council was called together from time to time and, as the result of its deliberations, the policy of the Menzies Government, and later the policy of the Fadden Government, had to be whittled down in order to secure the acquiescence of the Labour party. In an endeavour to secure adequate support for the passage of urgent and necessary legislation, the right honorable member for Kooyong went to the length of offering to form a national government under the leadership of the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). The Labour party rejected this offer also. “While this was happening, the two independent members in this chamber sat idly by, doing nothing to ensure a maximum war effort. Later, when the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) became Prime Minister, many people hoped that he would receive a greater measure of Labour co-operation than had been extended to his predecessor. But that was not to be. The Labour party, although promising co-operation, gave nothing more than, lip service to the Government. Gradually it came to the belief that it could produce a better war effort than the Menzies Government or the Fadden Government had produced. It secured the support of the two independent members and, ns the result, it has now taken office. When the present Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, moved an amendment to the Fadden budget, he based his opposition to it on the ground that it did not provide for true equality of sacrifice and the equitable distribution of the burden of taxation. Now, in the budget submitted by his own Treasurer, we see no evidence of any attempt to distribute that burden equitably. Broadly speaking, this budget entirely exempts from taxation increases all incomes of £1,500 a year and less, and places the increased burden on the higher incomes only. I agree that all persons in receipt of high incomes should bear the greatest possible share of our war-time financial burden, but I say emphatically that those taxpayers whose incomes are less than £1,500 a year should take over at least a portion of the increased burden which the nation must carry this year. Incomes of over £1,000 a year total £95,000,000; those between £400 a year and £1,000 a year total £145,000,000; and those of less than £400 a year total £560,000,000. From these figures it must be clear that the war effort could not be financed if all of the incomes of over £1,000 a year, and all of the incomes between £400 and £1,000 a year, were taken in taxes. The field of taxation on incomes over £1,500 a year is £67.000,000, or Si per cent, of the total taxable capacity of the nation.
Nevertheless, the Government proposes to obtain from this field 59 per cent, of its revenue from direct taxation. Everybody must share proportionately in the financing of our war effort. But the budget does not propose to effect this. The national income of Australia is more evenly distributed over the population than is the national income of Great Britain or that of the United States of America. The number of persons in Australia earning more than £5,000 a year is only 2,100; those earning between £2,000 and £5,000 number 11,500; and those earning between £1,000 and £2,000 number 32,000. Thus only 45,600 of the 7,000,000 people in Australia have a taxable income of £1,000 a year or over. This Government’s budget imposes no equality of sacrifice. The former Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) said, in his budget speech, that it was necessary “ to promote the diversion of resources from civil to war purposes “ in order to ensure a major war effort. The present Treasurer (Ma-. Chifley) used almost identical words in his budget speech. He said -
Labour’s war policy is to expand the war effort to the maximum and to do this by using all unemployed who are physically fit and diverting labour and resources from civil to war purposes.
If we are to engage in a maximum war effort, more and more of our men and materials engaged on civil production must be diverted to war production. The present Government professes to have this object in view, but even a superficial examination of its budget convinces me that it cannot possibly achieve this end. A maximum war effort cannot be achieved if lue Government requires only a few thousand people to pay adequate taxation, and leaves the bulk of the population almost free to spend as it likes. I remind the House that the national income of Australia has increased by £150,000,000 in the last twelve months. The greater portion of this increase represents the added income of munitions and other war workers arising from war-time expenditure. During the last eight months, the retail turnover of businesses in our capital cities has increased tremendously, by almost £0 per cent, in some instances. In order to satisfy the increased demand for civil commodities, there must necessarily be increased factory activity. Consequently, a greater number of men and much larger quantities of materials must be employed for the production of goods for civil use. This must necessarily have a retarding effect on our war effort, and no protestations by members of the Government, or by government supporters, can prove the contrary. The budget is, in fact, utterly impracticable as a method to ensure a maximum war effort, for it encourages increased expenditure on commodities for civil use.
Another utterly impracticable proposal of the Government is that an amount of £137,000,000 shall be raised by voluntary loans. The Government proposes to spend £324,000,000 in the current financial year. Its plans for raising revenue are short of that amount by £137,000,000, and it blithely suggests that this huge sum may be expected to come in by voluntary contributions. Such an achievement is not possible, as is definitely proved by the history of loan raisings during the last war and, so far, during this war. The only alternative is a resort to inflation by an undue expansion of bank credits. By the imposition of crushing taxation on persons with incomes in the higher registers, the Government is obviously closing the avenue of voluntary assistance, although it says that it expects that persons in the higher income registers will voluntarily invest in loans. It is true that, in the past, persons in the higher income groups have been the principal individual contributors to voluntary loans, but Hie Government cannot have their money both by taxation and voluntary contributions. It cannot have it both ways, and is, in fact, killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Obviously, if the fund from which voluntary loans have been derived in the past is dried up by excessive taxation, it will he impossible to raise money from such a fund in the future. If an amount, of £137,000,000 cannot be raised by voluntary loans, the budget will be unbalanced, and the Government will be obliged to resort to inflation. To put it in another way, if the Government cannot devise a fair and equitable system of taxation in order to ensure the receipt of the necessary revenue to finance a maximum war effort, it will not be able to reinforce our men overseas or provide adequately for the defence of Australia, and, therefore, it should resign. If it wishes to retain the right to govern, it must make adequate financial provision to ensure a maximum war effort.
That the Government has failed to inspire confidence in the community is evidenced by the insufficient response of the men of Australia to the appeal for the manpower required to reinforce our fighting services and. to provide the equipment that is necessary. If the response from the men and women of this country is not adequate to meet these needs, we are not making a maximum war effort and, consequently, the Government should resign. I do not think that any one can be satisfied with recruiting results in these days. We, on this side of the chamber, have assured the Government of our general support of its war effort, but if the Government intends to put the winning of an election before the winning of the war, or if it will not bring down practicable proposals, based on sound principles, for the financing of the war; and if it finds itself unable to inspire sufficient confidence in the genera] public to ensure adequate manpower support for our fighting services, it will have failed dismally and should, I repeat, resign. The proposals which the Ministry so far has placed before us do not merit the fulfilment of our promise of general support. There must be a radical change in the outlook of the Government if the country is to win through these most difficult times, and if wc are to maintain confidence and exert every effort to ensure an early peace with victory.
We have been informed that the Government proposes to review the budget in the New Year. I sincerely trust that when such a review is made it will result in the introduction of adequate financial measures that will enable the country to make an all-in war effort. We shall not be able to make such an effort until the budget proposals now before us are drastically revised. The Opposition intends to give to the Government every opportunity to “deliver the goods”, but we are not satisfied with its efforts so far. Personally, I hope that the promised review of the budget will result in amendments in many directions. There is a clear call for the Government to bring forward practicable proposals based on sound financial principles. Only so will the country be able to make a war effort in conformity with the needs of the situation and inspire the confidence that is necessary to ensure the adequate reinforcement of our fighting services. Unless Government policy be reviewed in the light of these needs, the Opposition parties will not be able to give the general support which it has promised to the Government. I say without any hesitation that this revised budget falls far short of the needs of the situation, and I warn the Government that unless it takes prompt action to revise its policy it will not be possible for us to give to it the generous support that we otherwise would be willing to give.
. I do not propose to reiterate points that have already been made by other honorable members in discussing the revised budget. In my opinion the debate, which has consisted largely of contributions by honorable gentlemen sitting on this side of the chamber, has been of a high order. I go so far as to say that it has been the best debate that I have heard in this Parliament for a long while. Generally speaking, honorable gentlemen have contributed well-considered and constructive observations on the various proposals of the budget. I support strongly the whole of the remarks made by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) in his careful analysis of the budget. I agree with the right honorable gentleman that no provision has been made for that equality of sacrifice of which we hear so much, and the desirability of which so many people emphasize. Equality of sacrifice is undoubtedly essential if we are to make a maximum war effort in this country. Such an effort demands at least three things. In the first place it demands the diverting from civil occupation to war industries of a very great deal more of the man-power and resources of this country than are at present engaged in war service and production. Obviously, we cannot expect to increase our war production very greatly unless we can divert workers from civil to war employment. Secondly - and this is probably the most important matter- a maximum war effort requires the enlistment of a great many more men to reinforce our army overseas. Thirdly, we must train and equip more men in this country to defend Australia against a possible and, perhaps, a likely invasion. Our forces to-day are not adequately equipped and, at best, are only partially trained. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and other honorable gentlemen opposite have said that Australia will defend itself to the last man. That sounds somewhat boastful, although I do not question the earnestness of those who make such statements. It is clear, however, that if we are to defend ourselves to the last man we must s make proper preparation to do so. I remind the Prime Minister that the battle is not won on the day of the fight. At the outbreak of the war we prayed for time to prepare for our defence, and we have bad two years of opportunity. We have done a good deal, but we have not done nearly all that we could have done. Certainly we shall have to do much more in the future.
I am totally opposed to the elimination from this budget of the proposals of the Fadden budget in respect of what are called post-war credits. I am also totally opposed to the decision of the Government to pay an extra shilling a day to members of the Forces forthwith in preference to providing such increase as deferred pay. I support the establishment of post-war credits, or compulsory loans as they are sometimes called, because I believe that by this means we can prevent a good deal of the extraordinary expenditure of the civil community to-day on what are essentially luxury goods. The establishment of post-war credits would serve two other important purposes. It would provide money immediately which the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) urgently requires for war purposes, and it would ensure that the workers of Australia would have money to spend after the war. That will be a difficult period, for the workers will then have to bc re-trans- ferred from war production to their normal civil occupations. It is a fairly simple procedure to take people from their civil occupations and place them in war industries, particularly as the manufacture of munitions of all kinds makes possible the payment of better wages than a good many people receive in their civil employment. Thousands of nien have been attracted from country towns and districts to the cities in order to undertake war work, and their surroundings in their new employment are much more congenial than were their surroundings in their former work. But what will happen when our huge war factories are no longer required for the manufacture of munitions, machinery, and the like? It seems to me that there will be a tremendous difficulty in reestablishing workers in civil employment after the ‘war. Post-war credits would be of immense value to the individual at such a time if they were available.
In regard to the advisability of providing that the extra pay to members of the Forces shall be deferred, I invite members of the Government to consult veterans of the last war who had experience, not only of the value of the deferred pay system, but also of the dangers of the free spending of money while they were serving. I believe that such a. consultation would indicate an almost unanimous preference for deferred pay. There are some people who are eager to spend all the money they can obtain, but, in my opinion, such spending is not in the best interests of the community. Not only the soldiers themselves, but also many civilians desire <to spend freely and at once all the money they earn. Probably this desire by soldiers and civilians combined’, as well as the interest of those in trade, has influenced the Government in its decision. I contend, however, that it would be in the interests of the nation and individuals alike to curtail such spending. My case is not answered by the statement that many people are today depositing their surplus money in the savings bank; or that the soldiers may save their money if they wish to do so; or that people generally may be relied upon to judge wisely in these matters. It cannot be denied that during the last war many young men spent their money extravagantly and foolishly. I have no doubt that large numbers of such individuals, having the experience of those years in mind, would favour the adoption of the deferred pay system.
I come now to what I regard as the most important subject before us, the need “adequately to reinforce the Australian Imperial Force. Probably a number of members of this Parliament believe in and advocate conscription. They are entitled to hold that view, and I have no comment to make in that regard. But the party which sits opposite is definitely opposed to conscription. I am decidedly of the opinion chat if all the men who have volunteered, and who will volunteer, were allowed to go overseas, there would be no need for conscription. I hold uncompromisingly the view that every man ‘who volunteers to go to the war, whatever his occupation may be, should be allowed to do so. Many thousands of volunteers have been prevented from going overseas because the work in which they are engaged in Australia is regarded as more important than fighting. The Government will, have voluntary enlistment for service overseas, and no other method. I im Y it has no more right ito compel a man to remain in Australia in spite of his earnest wish to serve overseas than it has to compel another to join the Australian Imperial Force. There are plenty of men available to do what has to be done in Australia, but relatively few who are willing to enlist. I met in my town three weeks ago a man whom I knew by sight and had- seen in camp. He said that lie had been in the Militia for twelve years, and held the rank of sergeant. He enlisted for service abroad and was accepted, but was not allowed to leave Australia. I asked him. what position he held, and he said “ I am in the Statistician’s department”. The authorities are pleading for enlistments because reinforcements are needed; yet aa officer in the Statistician’s department, who lias been trained as a soldier, cannot be spared for active service; many others are in a similar category. The work of some of them is important, but that of others is not, and could certainly be done by women and by old, or even foolish, mcn. lt is idle for anybody to say that we are making an all-in war effort while that sort of thing goes on. When no more men were offering and our divisions overseas ‘were not being reinforced and equipped, I might support the application of compulsion, but not until then. We have what is sometimes described as universal training. There is no such thing in Australia. When the last callup was made, the authorities handling it said that one-third of those called up were in the exempt class. Could one imagine anything that would cause so much dissatisfaction as some men being obliged to undergo training whilst others were prevented from doing so because of the nature of their occupations? I know young men who have been exempted from training «t the request of their employers only. A perusal of the large list of reserved occupations will show that journalists are exempt from compulsory training. Is it thought that we would be less likely to win the war if fewer newspapers were published ? Men who handle machinery in picture theatres, and brewers, also are exempt. These are examples of the categories of men who are exempt from compulsory service. The Prime Minister said a few days ago that personally he thought that medical students in their third year at the university should not be called up, but he left consideration and determination of the matter to a board. Apparently it, is more important that their medical training should be completed than that they should be obliged . to undergo military training. Honorable members probably have read that Stalin made an appeal to the people of Moscow to defend that city to the last man. Sydney and Melbourne may well be in a similar position to that of Moscow before long. Would the people of those cities be called on to defend them ? How could they be expected to defend their country if they had. not been trained because they could not be spared from their civil occupations? Is not the position utterly wrong and cruel? In the circumstances, how can an all-in war effort be made? Undoubtedly, some inconvenience wouldbe caused by the general application of military training, but could there be a war which did not cause some inconvenience? May I be permitted to quote the following lines of Kipling : -
But ye Bay “ It will mar our comfort,”
Ye Bay “It will minish our trade”;
Do ye wait for the spattered shrapnel,
Ere ye learn howagun is laid?
I repeat, that a battle is not won on the day on which it is fought. We may boast of our ability and resolve to defend this country, but we are not sincere unless we train and fit every man for the task - and it has tobe done now. The expenditure for which the budget makes provision is, in the main, for that purpose, and we have to carry it out. I do not care very much whether the revenue is raised from men in receipt of incomes under £400 or from those with incomes of over £1,500 a year, or whether the men spend what they receive, because I suppose that the Treasurer will eventually get it. The important thing is, that those men who are unwilling to look after themselves shall be compelled to do so. It appears to me that that aspect has been overlooked. There is no time to spare. The Government may say that its predecessor was responsible for some of the conditions to which I have referred. Although the present Administration has been in office for only a month, it, too, is responsible. It is not my purpose to criticize it particularly. I am merely urging that action be taken immediately. A conference of those who are supposed to understand these matters is not necessary in order to determine that every young man between the ages of eighteen and thirty years shall be trained, whatever his occupation may be, and that every man who is willing to enlist shall be permitted to do so. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) should say tonight that these things have to be done. He has only to say so, and they will be done. If the Government does not so declare, I say deliberately that it will not be doing what Australia expects it to do, and what it says it is willing to do. It is alive to the position ; its utterances prove that, but there are in the budget no words to indicate what it proposes to do. What we want is action instead of idle talk and rhetorical rubbish in appeals for enlistments and voluntary subscriptions to war loans, which will not have any effect.
.- I range myself with those who have offered to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) congratulations on the budget t he has prepared and brought down for discussion in this Parliament. I welcome the budget for many reasons, but shall later appeal to the Treasurer for the reconsideration of some of its items. I welcome it in the first place because it is a Labour budget, and seeks to distribute the burden of war on a more equitable basis than did the budget rejected in this Parliament about a month ago.
At the outset of the debate, it appeared that the budget would be accepted without a lengthy discussion; but our friends opposite were whipped up in order to advance some sort of criticism of it. Their task is a most difficult one. Most of their speeches have been camouflaged attacks on the budget. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) conveyed to the people of Australia the wrong impression that the budget attacks only the higher incomes, and leaves untaxed a wide range of working-class and middle-class incomes. My reply to that statement is that the budget which the Government of the right honorable gentleman introduced only twelve months ago, taxed that section of the workers to the limit of their capacity to pay.
The right honorable gentleman went on to say that State Labour governments had taxed the workers to an amount of 1s. in the £1 in order to relieve unemployment. I have in my hand a table of taxation which is termed “ Financial emergency tax “. This was imposed on the workers by the Labour government of Western Australia during the worst unemployment ever experienced by Australia. The table shows that a married worker in receipt of an income of £4 2s. a week was completely exempt from the tax. That is in direct contradiction of the statement of the right honorable member. Talk of that kind from men of high standing in the community has adversely affected contributions to war loans. It has been suggested by honorable members opposite that subscriptions have fallen off since the Labour Government assumed office. In reference to this, I quote from the following article, which appeared in the Kalgoorlie Miner of the 27th February, 1941:-
During the fourteen months from March, 1940, to May, 1941, inclusive, Kalgoorlie and Boulder have contributed £220,945 in war savings, free of interest loans, and war savings certificates. This information was made available by Mr. W. Lloyd, secretary of the Western Australian War Loans and War Savings Certificates Committee.
I am convinced that subscriptions would have continued at the same rate but for the prospect of the introduction of the scheme of compulsory savings outlined in the Fadden budget, the rejection of which was approved by more than 70 per cent, of the people of Australia.
The increases of pensions and of soldiers’ pay were long overdue. No one deserves better of the people of Australia than the pioneers who made it possible for this Parliament House to be built in Canberra, and the soldiers who are to-day absent from Australia protecting the freedom which the building symbolizes. During the last war, our soldiers were paid 5s. a day, and at that time the basic wage in Western Australia was £3 9s. a week. To-day, the basic wage in .Western Australia is £4 Ils. Id., but until this Government took office, the pay of the soldiers remained at 5s. a day. Just as the soldiers deserve more consideration, so also do the pensioners. This Government is prepared to stand or fall by the treatment which it has meted out to the soldiers and the pensioners, and we hope that before long we shall be able to do more for them.
I have been associated with politics for many years in Western Australia, and I know that there is a powerful agitation in that State in favour of the establishment of the mortgage bank for the benefit of primary producers. In 1937, the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking System recommended the establishment of such a bank, and ex-Senator Sir George Pearce promised that it would be done. A similar promise has been included in several budgets since then, but it remained for Mr. Chifley, in his recent budget, to do something definite, and the undertaking he gave has been received with enthu siasm by the primary producers throughout Australia, who have suffered severely at the hands of the private trading banks and other financial institutions.
I appeal to the Treasurer not to interfere with the existing provision, which recognizes calls paid to mining companies as an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. It would be unwise at this time to place an additional burden on the gold-mining industry. The electorate which I represent produces 70 per cent, of the total gold yield of Australia. For 1940, the last year for which figures are available, of a total gold yield for Australia of 1,644,000 oz., no less than 1,153,000 oz. were produced in the Kalgoorlie electorate. For the years 1939- 41, the gold tax imposed by the Menzies Government yielded to the Commonwealth £1,214,000, land in 1940- 41 the amount was £1,452,000. It is evident, therefore, that the gold-mining industry is of much greater importance to Australia, both directly and indirectly, than is generally recognized. The gold tax is not a tax on profits made by the gold producers, but a direct tax of so much an ounce on gold won from the earth, before production costs have been taken into consideration. It is a tax on production, and as such is not only a brake on the industry, but also a flaw in the economic system of the State and the Commonwealth. Gold is a commodity which, above all others, has a national value. Among other things, it makes possible the purchase of essential commodities from non-sterling countries, and our need for those commodities is vast and urgent. Gold-mining is preeminently a key industry, and should be treated as such. It would be unfortunate, therefore, if anything were done under stress of war conditions which would permanently injure so valuable an industry. The pastoral industry in Western Australia has, during the last six years, suffered under one of the most devastating droughts in the history of the State. During the depression years, when the pastoral industry offered very little employment, and since then when it has suffered so severely as the result of drought, the gold-mining industry came to the rescue by absorbing a great number of the unemployed. The goldin in ing industry has been hampered and handicapped because mining machinery urgently needed for developmental work has been unobtainable because war production must take precedence. During Iiic last twelve months, I have appealed repeatedly to the authorities to instruct the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee to visit Western Australia in order to investigate problems associated with the mining industry. I can produce letters signed nine months ago by Ministers of the last Government giving an undertaking that the committee would visit Western Australia. So far, however, the committee has not visited the West. Perhaps Western Australia is too far away, but I hope that this Government will direct the committee to investigate these pressing problems without further delay. If possible, the committee should visit the West early in the new year, make its investigation, and recommend remedial measures to be put into effect immediately.
Some months ago, I asked the then Minister for Supply and Development to give first consideration to people living in the outback in the event of the liberalization of the petrol rationing regulations. They deserve consideration before people residing in the city, because in the outback areas there are no alternative methods of transport. Whilst city dwellers have at their disposal transport of all kinds, prospectors and pastoralists have no means of travel other than the motor vehicle. For that reason, they are entitled to receive first consideration when any relaxation of petrol rationing is contemplated.
I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) on his budget, because the introduction of financial principles different from those adopted by the previous Administration will be welcomed by a vast majority of the people. To honorable members opposite, I say that I am not one to throw stones and break glass windows, but a house which was divided against itself, as were the United Australia, party and the United Country party during the last twelve months, could not stand. If the Fadden Government could not satisfy its own rank and file, it could not hope to accomplish the infinitely more difficult task of satisfying the people. With Australia facing the darkest hour of its history, every man must pull his weight in the war effort, if the country is to survive. As the Government enjoys the confidence of electors, it will be able to reorganize industry in order to stimulate the war effort and demonstrate to our allies that we are united in our will to prosecute the struggle to a successful conclusion. If honorable members opposite, instead of playing this “diabolical game of politics” which they claim to dislike so greatly, give to the Labour party the same measure of co-operation as it gave to the previous Government, the new Administration will get on with the job and “ deliver the goods “ to the people.
– Did not the Labour party play at politics when it was in Opposition ?
– Definitely not! Mr. Blackburn. - The previous Government simply fell to pieces.
– It blew out its brains when it deposed the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) as Prime Minister. Unfortunately for Australia, the previous government for a number of years practised the policy of centralization, which greatly retarded the progress of the smaller States by increasing the wealth of the already-bloated cities. That policy applied not only to States, but also within States. Outback towns of Western Australia are virtually moribund as a result of this calamitous policy of centralization. The Central Woo] Committee directed that all wool in Western Australia should be appraised at Fremantle or Albany, despite the fact that Geraldton possesses all facilities for appraisement and was an appraisement centre during the last war. During the last 25 years more than £1,000,000 has been expended upon improving the harbour facilities of the town. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Government diverted to Fremantle the whole of the wool produced in areas of which Geraldton was the natural port. According to a statement by the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Willcock), 50,000 bales of wool are produced within the Victoria district, which the port of Geraldton serves. If appraisements had been proceeded with at Geraldton, more than 95,000 bales would have been handled there. But instead of using the advantages of the natural port for the district, the Central Wool Committee saddled wool producers with the additional burden of having to pay freight on their wool to Fremantle, more than 300 miles away. As the result of the diversion of wheat and wool from Geraldton, many workers who reared their families in the town have been obliged to seek employment in distant parts of the State. Numbers of them are working on the East- West road near the border of South Australia.
Esperance, which is the natural port for the eastern gold-fields ,and the Upper Murchison, has had a similarly unfortunate experience. As a result of the previous Government’s policy of centralization, it has virtually closed. No ship has called there for nine months. Consequently, waterside workers at Esperance had to pack their swags, leave their families and go elsewhere in search of employment. These facts are astounding, but they cannot be refuted. The policy of the previous Government undoubtedly hampered progress.
The present Government should ensure that country towns will be encouraged to develop. How will the Commonwealth approach the problem of post-war reconstruction if all efforts have been centralized, and the development of outback towns bias beon hamstrung? On the day after the Labour Government took office, I received a telegram which pointed out that because of the weevil menace the whole of the wheat from the Geraldton district might be diverted to Fremantle. Admittedly, the weevil menace constitutes a problem, but it is not confined to one district. It is prevalent on the Australian waterfront generally. So soon as I consulted the new Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) about the matter, I discovered that the Wheat Board had re-directed’ that wheat should be shipped through Geraldton.
– That decision had been reached before the change of Government.
– I doubt it. My information from the Department of
Commerce disposes of that belief. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) will recall that he accompanied me at Port Augusta when I sent to the Minister a telegram of protest against the decision to divert the wheat from Geraldton to Fremantle. Subsequently, I received an assurance that at least 3,000,000 bushels of approximately 6,000,000 bushels of wheat would be stacked at Geraldton. In my opinion, wheat should be shipped through the natural ports of the zones in which it is grown. Unless a policy of decentralization be practised, our big cities will continue to grow and country towns will wane.
I appeal to the Government to arrange a comprehensive legislative programme, keep Parliament in session until it has been disposed of, and then allow a reasonable recess in order to enable honorable members to devote attention to the requirements of their constituents. During the last twelve months, the previous Government, made a practice of summoning Parliament for a fortnight, adjourning for a brief period-, .and recalling members for another short session. Such a policy greatly inconvenienced members from distant States, particularly those from Western Australia, whose journey to and from Canberra occupies ten days. An important consideration, which cannot be overlooked, is the fact that the Government has appealed t.o the several parliamentary committees which are inquiring into social services, rural industries, broadcasting, man-power, profits and war expenditure to accelerate their work and submit their reports. How can they concentrate on their inquiries if Parliament meets spasmodically for a brief space, adjourns for a fortnight, and re-assembles?
The Commonwealth Grants Commission, in recommending the payment of special grants to certain States for 1941-42, suggested a reduction of the grant to Western Australia by £20,000 and an increase of the grant to South Australia by £400,000. Upon this matter I shall have more to say when the States Grants Bill 1941 is being debated. For the time being, I content myself with expressing my dissatisfaction with the recommendation of the commission.
In conclusion, I appeal to members of the Opposition to extend to the new Government the same co-operation on war measures as the Labour party gave to the previous Administration. By doing so, they will render great service to Australia. I am confident that the Government is capable of organizing the whole of the resources of the country in an effort which, I hope, will bring this disastrous conflict to a conclusion earlier than some of us expect.
Sitting suspended from CIS to S p.m.
– Two fundamentals must be present before a war-time budget can be successful. First, there must be a real and sincere appreciation of the war position and of all of our obligations - a realization that this war affects our liberty and standards of living as a democracy as much as it affects the liberty and standards of any other democracy, and that it vitally affects our position in the Pacific. Our obligations in respect of the war must be met by a complete regimentation of all of those things which are necessary in its fighting - all of our resources, in fact, everything which it is possible for us as a nation bo put into this war. There must be a complete realization of our obligations to give to this war and not to take out of it.
The second fundamental is a financial policy which makes for the maximum use of men, money and materials, which dovetails with the war fabric, and which must be part and parcel of everything associated with our war effort. A wartime financial policy must be entirely different from any peace-time financial policy, because all the factors in war-time are entirely dissimilar from those which obtain during times of peace. All other considerations, therefore, must for the time being be placed on one side. Social reconstruction can be brought about only when the battle is won. All considerations with regard to a new> order, pensions and improved social conditions, have no part whatever in our war effort, because it is quite patent that, unless we win this waT, the new order, the great social reconstruction to which we all look forward, may never come about.
It would appear, in presenting his budget, that the Treasurer (Mr. ‘Chifley) has a full appreciation of those two fundamentals. He said -
To-day wc are in the throes of the most deadly and devastating war that lias ever been waged between nations, and the skies are dark with clouds of evil portent.
That statement shows that the Treasurer fully realizes the war position. Then he said in less general terms, and, as if he were afraid to do more than skip over it, in a phrase of eight words, “Financial policy must fit in with war policy “.
– The Treasurer is a man of action.
– I accept the statement of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) that the Treasurer is a man of action, but, at the same time, the Treasurer has repeated a statement which has been made ad nauseam in this House and on the public platform since the war began, namely, that we must divert labour from civil to war purposes and that private spending must be curtailed, a laudable comment with which I find no fault. He would appear to have a full appreciation of the war position and of the need for a real financial policy. But after having said all of those other things, which would indicate his appreciation of the war position and the need for a financial policy to dovetail with the war policy, the Treasurer also said - and I ask honorable members to mark the statement well, because it is the crux of the whole thing - “ No amount of entries in the Commonwealth Bank’s books oan accomplish this “. The man in the street may well be pardoned if, after pondering at statements like those, he said, ‘ Lo, here’s a Treasurer the like of whom has never been seen before in Australia ! “. Notwithstanding these phrases and hia assurances with regard to entries in the Commonwealth Bank’s books, we find that he proposes to make some entries in those books, entries which may well be disastrous to Australia. Now, what are those entries? Let us have a look at them, because they will have a vital bearing on the financial policy which this Government wishes to pursue in the carrying on of our war effort. Last year, by loan, about £62,000,000 waa raised in Australia and about £15,000,000 in the United Kingdom. Glory only knows that it was hard enough to raise that £62,000,000, as was shown in statements by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank and the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board. Yet, this year the Treasurer proposes to raise something like £137,000,000 by loan. I ask honorable members to observe the effect upon the £100,000,000 war and conversion loan campaign now in progress, the response to which has been the subject of strictures by both the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank and the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board. If we had difficulty in raising £62,000,000 last year, and have difficulty in converting £100,000,000 this year, how does the Government propose to raise a further £137,000,000 by loan? The difference between what we struggled so hard to raise last year and that which is demanded from loans this year is £75,000,000. It is to be obtained from where? From the credit side of the Commonwealth Bank’s boobs. That is one of the entries which the Treasurer proposed to make. But that is not the complete picture. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) drew the attention of the committee to the net balance of London funds, amounting to £30,000,000. The right honorable gentleman pointed out that that balance also represented an inflationary tendency, and, although some of it may ultimately be used to purchase dollars in the United States of America, so that Australia may be able to import through the ordinary licensing system from the United States of America some of the civil essentials which, but for the needs of Russia would have been met from lease-lend funds, there will be a big amount of money on the Government’s books, I should say £50,000,000 or £60,000,000, for goods which will not be paid for. The money will go through the budget from Consolidated Revenue. That will make for a further appreciation of our credit structure and, therefore, the criticism of the right honorable member for Kooyong with regard to an expansion of credit by £100,000,000 is really on the conservative side.
With the realization that here we have an extraordinary amount of credit pumped into the financial well, notwithstanding what may have been said by the Treasurer about entries in the Commonwealth Bank’s books and notwithstanding any observations which may have been made by the general public in appreciation of the Treasurer’s earlier comments, I venture to state that, after looking at that picture, the people may well be pardoned if they say, “Lo, there has been no greater Treasurer since ‘Red Ted of Mangana’”. But he was only a £25,000,000 inflationist. This expansion exceeds all known possibilities of inflation, and again I say that no previous Treasurer has ever attempted to inflate the currency to the extent now proposed. Are there no inflationary trends which would show that there is surplus money in the community? Are there danger signs indicating the need to draw from the community surplus money by applying judicious taxation instead of pumping more money into it? Yes, there are signs. All the economic trends show that there must be a rapid diversion of men, money and materials from civil to war purposes. What are those trend*! First, look at the employment market, because that is a ready barometer. At the moment the labour market, in the widest terms, is almost exhausted.
– What rot!
– The Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) said in answer to a question asked by the former Minister for Labour and National Service” (Mr. Holt) that in the month of October 1,273 men had been lost to munitions factories. The defections of successive months up to October mentioned by tie Minister point to the fact that there is not sufficient labour on the .market for private industry to draw upon without competing with the Government. Private industry, therefore, is drawing from government works men at the rate of 1,200 a month in order to produce civil goods. That indicates that there must be excessive money in the community, because private enterprise can compete with the Government only when it can offer more attractive conditions of labour. The fact that private enterprise can compete with the Government is an infallible sign that there is excessive money in the community. A few days ago, the Prime Minister informed the House that the Commonwealth wage fund had increased by approximately £150,000,000 since the outbreak of war. In addition to that, approximately £10,000,000 is being paid out annually for child endowment. The extra £150,000,000 in the wage fund is due mainly to increased rates of wages, war loadings and overtime payments for work in munition factories and other establishments associated with the war effort. These wage-earners belong to a class that has never been taxed for war purposes, lt is extraordinary that from this total of £150,000,000 not one penny is to be exacted for war purposes. That spending power remains in the community, and as the result we learn that record business has been transacted in retail trades. Luxury and semi-luxury goods have been purchased to an extraordinary degree. Retail sales have increased by approximately 3S.4 per cent.
– What did the honorable gentleman’s Government propose to do about it.
– The budget produced by the Government of which I was a member proposed the necessary correctives. Honorable members who now support the Government were not courageous enough to face up to that fact. They knew that the Fadden budget was unpopular, and therefore they took the necessary action to secure control of the Government. Having done so, they have failed to measure up to their obligations. I do not wish the committee to confuse that increase of 38.4 per cent, in retail sales with the increase of prices, because price increases represent only about 9 per cent, of pre-war rates, as compared with 40 per cent, during the first year of the war of 1914-18. Although we may have an effective system of price control, that in itself is not sufficient. It can keep prices of necessaries down, but it will also keep the prices of unessential goods at a level which will lead the people to purchase them with the excess of money that is left in their hands. Savings bank deposits have increased by about £20,250,000 since the outbreak of war, and amusements have been patronized to a degree that makes Australia’s war effort appear farcical. I give point to my observations by quoting from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 5 th November, 1941, a statement regarding betting operations at the recent Melbourne Cup race meeting. I have not selected horse-racing for any particular reason ; the same truths apply to dogracing and other forms of entertainment. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald, was as follows : -
Racegoers at the third Melbourne Cup meeting to be held during this war. invested £1.35,271 10s. on the totalizator to-day - an alltime record for Australia. The attendance was estimated officially at about 90,000, the same as last year. Bookmakers generally reported that betting with them was not so big as might have been expected from the size of the attendance. However, business was better than last year.
In order to convey people to Melbourne for this race meeting, twelve trains left Sydney on one night and fifteen trains on another night. The people who attended the meeting, and who have little appreciation of the war situation, spent approximately £20,000 more on betting than they- spent at the Melbourne Cup meeting last year. Not only did they waste money that might well have been put to war work, but also their transport involved the use of coal, which is vital to the country in time of war, and deterioration of rolling stock at a time when the nation is fighting for its very existence - rolling stock which should be nursed against future emergencies. It is an extraordinary fact that, whereas 90,000 people spent £135,000 on the totalizator in one day, 7,000,000 Australians in one month subscribed only £659,000 for the purchase of war savings certificates. So much money was spent on the race meeting only because of excessive money in the community, money that will be supplemented by a further pumping of credit into our financial system. No wonder the men at Tobruk stand in silence for the men who have fallen during the sporting sessions in Australia! There is no proper appreciation of the war situation in Australia; honorable members supporting the Government certainly have no appreciation of our position. I refer honorable members now to a statement made by Sir Claude Reading, chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, which was published in the press of the 10th November -
The response to the £100,000,000 cash and conversion war loan has been most unsatisfactory, and not worthy of Australia. So far, only about 40,000 persons out of a papulation of 7,000,000 have made cash applications. In u recent loan in Canada, there were 850,000 subscribers. Allowing for the smaller population in Australia there should be 500,000 subscribers to the Australian loan when it closes at the end of this week.
The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand also had something to say about Australia’s response to war loan appeals. The following report of his remarks was published in the Australian newspapers : -
The New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr. Nash, said last night that Australians would have to do a lot in the next few days if they wanted to equal New Zealand’s loan record. “ We had a conversion loan and u war loan u short time ago, which was over-subscribed “, Mr. Nash said.
– A Labour Government.
– I admit that. If the Commonwealth Government is prepared to face up to its obligations and bring in compulsory service as the New Zealand Government has done, it will secure the same good results; otherwise it will not. Mr. Armitage, the governor of the Commonwealth Bank, said : -
Compare our best figures in this war - S7.000 applications for the loan last May - with 243,000 subscribers to one loan in the lust war. That is more than four times as many as our best effort on this occasion. Our population is two millions greater; we have a national income this year of almost £1,000,000,000; bank deposits were never so high; unemployment was never so low.
All of these things point to one fact - the urgent need to withdraw the surplus money from the community instead of making more and more money available to it. Loans find their way into the pockets of the people through wages, and unless correctives be applied prices will rise like rockets and inflationary tendencies will be created that will be disastrous to Australia. It is axiomatic that, when employment increases, when wage levels rise, and when prices soar unduly we are well on our way to inflation unless the proper correctives are applied. I have proved the truth of my statements with the figures which I have quoted. Does this Government intend to apply the necessary correctives? If it had such an intention I believe that we should see some reflection of it in the budget. I do not refer to a national savings campaign, or to a few anaemic appeals to the people to refrain from spending. Obviously, when shelves are stocked with goods, and money is in the pockets of the people, all of the appeals that may be made by members of the Government and their supporters - and I hope that such appeals will be more effective than those which they have made from the recruiting .platform - will be barren. I do not mean that sort of corrective, nor do I mean further restrictions of imports. The last Government of which I was a member carried out its task courageously in applying import restrictions. It imposed complete embargoes on over 1,200 category classifications of goods; it imposed restrictions up to 80 per cent, on some essentials ; and it imposed restrictions up to 70 per cent, on Oregon for building purposes and varying percentages with regard to all other non-sterling imports. It forced the use of substitutes wherever it could do so. But it learned that, whilst it was preventing goods from coming into the country, subtle, cleverly worded advertising campaigns resulted in a diversion of activity from the manufacture of essential commodities to the manufacture of serailuxury items. The excess money in the community was used to purchase such goods, and therefore they were a much better proposition for the manufacturers than the ordinary commodities which they had been producing previously. Excessive money in the community will always be used to purchase luxury goods. Therefore, import restrictions did not have the effect that the last Government expected them to have. They certainly curtailed the importation of certain luxury commodities, and they conserved our dollar pool overseas, but they did not prevent, unnecessary spending. Thus, when I speak of correctives I do not mean a further application of import restrictions. “What I mean is a just and equitable method of taxation and loan raising. Taxation, in the main, should draw the surplus money from the community.
Resort to loans should foe judicious, in order to put an extra amount of credit into the community so that our economic system could work on a fine, even balance. Whilst I criticize the Government’s taxation policy, I am not opposed to increase of taxation as a general principle. Taxation is the most equitable means of withdrawing surplus money from the community. Of course, it is compulsory, but fairly applied, it places the load on the shoulders which are best able to bear it. But when taxation measures are applied in such a vicious way as this Government proposes to apply them, it is proper for us to criticize what is being done. The Government is not acting fairly in this connexion, for it is seeking to place an undue burden on a small proportion of the people. Let me give an example or two. The Government is proposing to take a mere £4,000,000 in taxes from the huge field of £560,000,000 represented by incomes of £400 and under per annum. It is also proposing to take £28,000,000 in taxes from a taxable field of £240,000,000. In other words, it is proposing to grant total exemption to 80 per cent, of the people and to “soak” viciously the other 20 per cent. This policy must have a disastrous effect upon the country at large in the immediate future and, more seriously, in the post-war reconstruction period. In my opinion the Government’s policy will not only retard temporarily, but may also close permanently many businesses which in normal times provide the bulk of employment for our people. I shall give an example of how a private company will be affected by the Government’s new taxation scheme. These details relate to a small organization which is typical of the companies that are, normally, the backbone of our commercial world. It happens that for the year ended the 30th June, 1940, the company made a loss of £100, whilst for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, it made a profit of £4,100. The directors decided not to distribute the profit for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, but to retain it in order to pay taxes. Any residue was to be carried over to a tax-free reserve. It will be found that under the Government’s taxation proposals not only will the company have reserved insufficient to pay its taxes, although it has retained all its profits”, but also it will be required to find an additional £1,018 in order to meet its taxes this year. The rate of tax works out at £1 5s. Id. for each £1 of taxable income, so that the company will have to find 5s. Id. in the £1 over and above its profits for the last year. The details as follows : -
The corresponding details for subsequent years, assuming that the company made a profit of £4,000 in those years, would be as follows: -
No company could carry on under those conditions. Although the Government may obtain the estimated amount of tax from such a company in respect of its operations for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, it would be unlikely to obtain anything from the company in subsequent years. I submit that these taxation proposals are vicious and sectional, in that the burden is not placed on the shoulders which are able to carry it. In effect, the Government is proposing to skulldrag such companies over the financial pricks while it is entirely disregarding other legitimate sources of income. In respect of a huge taxable field of more than £500,000,000, it is not imposing one penny of additional tax. The budget is, in my opinion, entirely unbalanced. I shudder to think what is likely to happen if an additional £100,000,000, in the form of credit expansion, be pumped into the financial stream during the coming year. The Government is not proposing to apply any correctives. No attempt is to be made to take from the community the surplus money that should be taken from it. Apparently there is still to be open competition between the Government and commercial interests for the services of persons who should be available for the production of war supplies. Commercial interests are to be allowed a free hand in attracting workers from munitions factories and the like. A Government which brings down such unbalanced financial proposals cannot expect to survive.
-The Government with which the honorable member was connected did not survive either !
– Any one would think that the honorable member for Wentworth was sincere!
– I am just as sincere as is the honorable member foi Hunter. When that honorable gentleman speaks about the privations of people living on the coal-fields I know that he is sincere. Now that I am speaking about the privations likely to fall upon business interests, I ask the honorable gentleman to believe that I also am sincere. The Government cannot expect to carry on its operations effectively with a financial policy of the kind now before us. Unemployment, as we know it, judging by ordinary standards, will’ be as nothing compared with the unemployment that will follow the adoption of the inflationary measures now proposed. Those who will suffer chiefly through such measures will not be the wealthy men, but the poor men who work for wages which will lag behind the rising spiral of prices. The honorable member for Hunter should not gibe at me ; he should be devoting his attention to the curbing of the inflationary tendencies of the Government. Apparently the Treasurer intends to drain the blood from the arteries of the commercial world. He need not then stand back and wonder at the absence of blood in the arteries which have been so drained. Instead of encouraging companies to create reserves and to put money aside for the purposes of post-war reconstruction, the Government is apparently intent upon discouraging civil industry fortifying itself for post-war development.
I believe that compulsory loans or postwar credits should be imposed upon people, according to their capacity to pay. Such loans or credits should be repayable after the war, and would become part of the resources available for po3t-war expansion. Only by such means oan we expect to have a fund available to help us to take up the slack in employment when the huge demands of our war industries cease, and when our boys return from the war. Instead of encouraging such a policy, the Government seems determined to encourage a policy that must enevitably lead to inflation and, by this means, increase the already large surplus purchasing power. In short, this budget is a true reflection of Labour’s cock-eyed financial policy.
– It is better than the humbug financial policy of the previous Government.
– The Government believes in compulsory unionism in an industrial war when living standards are in question. It also believes in voluntary service for a war of armament, in which our lives and our very existence are at stake. It believes in vicious compulsory taxation of the few, but appeals for voluntary savings by the many. It fails to realize that such a policy must cancel itself out. Compulsory taxation may become so vicious as to prevent compulsory unionists from obtaining employment, and it may therefore cancel out compulsory unionism. When voluntary appeals fail to secure the money necessary for war purposes, they cancel out voluntary service, because equipment and munitions cannot be purchased. The whole plan is a clear instance of Labour’s typical policy of negation.
We have been told that the Labour party has a defence policy. Well, I ask the honorable member to try to get this in perspective, because I cannot. A defence policy calls for concentration of forces but the only defence policy that has been disclosed by this Government is the policy of diversion. At first the Labour party desired to divert our troops overseas back to Australia. Then it desired to divert our men from the Empire air training scheme back to Australia. Yet, on the other hand, when its financial policy calls for a diversion of resources for war purposes, it will do anything but divert. Neither this Government, nor any other government, can expect to wage a successful war against totalitarianism by wild inflationary schemes or vicious taxation, by voluntary appeals for money, or by social “handouts “. This war can be won only by a complete regimentation of men, money and materials.
.- This budget, like all the previous wartime budgets, follows the set pattern of taxation and expansion of credit. The differences observable in these budgets is in degree, and not in principle. The budget introduced by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) provided for expansion of credit, and so did the budget subsequently introduced by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden). A budget which provides for a borrowing policy provides for a policy of expansion. That, 1 think, is perfectly clear, although it does not seem: to be conceded by members of the Opposition.
– It does not follow.
– The borrowing appeals made in Australia have been directed, it is true, to the public, and the ordinary conception one has of the response to loans is that somebody is either retrenching his expenditure or withdrawing his money from the savings bank in order to contribute to the loans. As a matter of fact, such contributions represent a very small proportion indeed of the actual response to loans. The main response is from the banks, either directly or indirectly; they take up first much of the amount sought to be raised and then contribute the residue when others have failed. For that purpose, they do not take the money of their depositors and pay it to the Government, but create a credit in their books in favour of the Government, thus bringing into existence currency which did not exist previously. Having added to the volume of money, they proceed to disturb the balance between money and goods. We cannot escape from the quantity theory of money. If the velocity and amount of money available be increased without a corresponding increase of the amount of goods and services to be purchased, then the prices of those goods and services rise. Calling into existence a large amount of credit money disturbs that balance of goods or expansion of credit. All of the economists who are writing in Australia to-day agree that the policy pursued by the Government led by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was just as much an expansionist policy as is the policy of this Government.
– That is not correct.
– I prefer to defer to expert authority rather than to that of the amateur member for Richmond. I now quote from Australia Foots the BUI, a work recently written by four Australian economists - Butlin, Critchley, McMillan and Tange - and published by Angus and Robertson in 1941, in conjunction with the New South Wales Branch of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand. As an illustration, these economists make a quotation from the financial statement delivered by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) on the 2nd May, 1940, as follows : -
Considerable help has been afforded by the banking system in providing loan funds this financial year, so that we have only made modest calls on the public by borrowing or new taxation. A loan of £ 12,000,000 (December, 1030) was provided entirely by the banks, particularly by the Commonwealth Bank.
The comment which is made on that is this -
Secondly, the Commonwealth Bank not only provided assistance in helping to finance the Commonwealth loans, but also carried its policy .further by expanding advances and purchasing securities on the open market. Just how extensive these operations were, it is impossible to say definitely from public StatisticS but a careful estimate has suggested that the Commonwealth Bank expanded credit in these ways .to the extent of £34,000.000 in 1030-40.
All economists at present agree that a policy of borrowing is an expansionist policy. I have with me a very interesting article, written by Sheila T. Van Der Horst and published in The South African Journal of Economics, in which the same contention is put; and it is put also by American writers. The response to a borrowing appeal comes very largely from the banks, either directly or indirectly; directly, because of their own subscriptions, which represent neither more nor less than a granting of credit to the ‘Government and an addition to the money in the country without a corresponding addition to goods and services; and indirectly, because the banks will grant credit to their customers in order to enable them to lend to the Government. This was a very common practice in the last war. The banks would say to persons who had with them even very small deposits: “If you have £10, we can give you a credit of £90, in order to enable you to take up £100 worth of government stock.” That meant that £90 was created for the first time, and of course it represented an expansion of credit. In the raising of the money, there is no difference in essence between the expansionist policy which is the result of such voluntary borrowing, and the expansionist policy proposed by this Government; but, whereas under the voluntary borrowing policy, the present generation must not merely stand the risk of intiation, but also pay interest, and future generations must continue to pay interest until the loan is paid, under a system of expansion by Government direction, although there is the risk of inflation, there is not the liability to pay interest on the amount of credit created, directly or indirectly, from the banks, nor does this and future generations have imposed on them the burden of debt. It is the same kind of money in either case. If you borrow, you get credit which is an addition to the money in the country, without a corresponding addition to goods and services ; but you have to pay to the bank, or the customers of the bank, interest on it, and ultimately have t.o repay the loan. All the time, of course, you run the risk of inflation. If, on the other hand, the credit is created under the direction of the Government - as it ought to be, and as this Government proposes that to a great extent it shall be - then, although you run the risk of inflation, you do not have the obligation to pay interest, to either the bank or anybody else, and you do not have the perpetual burden of debt. In ordinary peace-times, the people say “We would sooner trust the banks than the Government, because it is the function of the banks to deal in money, and they are not, therefore, likely to over-increase the amount, whereas the Government might inflate in order to bridge a gap “. In war-time, however, the position is reversed. The bank profits by the creation of new money, because it is paid for that new money, and has the best security there is for it. In time of war, the bank’s best security is not the land of the country, not the stocks of its customers, but the hacking of the Government. So long as the bank can get that security, it will continue to lend money, and to create money for the purpose of crediting it to the Government and charging the Government interest upon it, imposing that as a burden on the community for ever. To my mind, that function of creating new money is, in effect, the function of the Government, and should be a Government monopoly; instead of private persons, for private profit, creating credit, charging interestto the community, and imposing on the community the perpetual burden of interest and debt, credit should be created by the Government, under Government direction. My submission is that in wartime there is a necessary tendency to trust the Government, which is much less likely than are the banks to expand unduly. The banks will expand se long as they can get government securities for their loans; but the Government has a responsibility to the community, and has to face the risk of being displaced by a people irate beyond endurance on account of increases of prices. I admit that, in time of war especially, every expansionist policy gives rise to the danger of inflation. In time of peace that is not so likely, because expenditure is used to bring together unemployed men, machines and raw materials, and consumers. But in time of war, with unemployment disappearing - as it is now - expenditure does not discharge that useful function. Therefore, in time of war, an expansionist policy always exposes us to the danger of inflation. But the socalled alternative policy of borrowing, also gives rise to the danger of inflation. In fact, it has been pointed out by Sheila T. Van Der Horst that even borrowing from the individual gives rise to a danger of inflation, if, instead of retrenching consumption, the individual takes out of the bank money lying in a stagnant account, and puts it into circulation, thus increasing the volume of money in the community. Therefore, tried by nearly every standard, a policy of borrowing is a policy of inflation, with the certainty of imposing on the community a crushing obligation of interest and debt. For these reasons, I oppose the borrowing policy, and regret that the Government has agreed to resort to so much voluntary borrowing as is contemplated by this budget. I believe that the Government should take control and direction not merely of the Commonwealth Bank but also of the private banks, which should be placed under the direction and control of a government board, which should decide from time to time what amount of new money is necessary, and ration among the central bank and the private banks the contributions which each must make. I regret very much that political considerations, mainly, prevent the adoption of a policy for carrying on the war by direct taxation. The idea has been expressed in the Labour platform for many years, that war expenditure should be financed from direct taxation; but political considerations make it difficult to raise the necessary amount by direct taxation in a year, and consequently one is driven to other methods of raising money. As between direct and indirect taxation, there can be no argument. With direct taxation you are enabled to distribute the burden properly among the taxpayers, but with indirect taxation, such as sales tax and increased postal charges, you have a regressive tax which falls upon people, more upon the large family than upon the small family, without regard to ability to pay. Sales tax is a regressive tax, which falls more heavily upon those with small incomes than upon those with large incomes. I am sorry that we have not rejected the proposals to increase sales tax and postal charges. We could do so. I believe that direct taxation is the best method of raising money. It can be progressive, and that is its great merit. It is fair that those who have large incomes should pay more than those with smaller incomes, and that for two reasons : First, it is fair because no one can Bay that some persons are justly and meritoriously entitled to greater incomes than other persons. To say that is to say that everybody gets in this world what he deserves. I know that some people say that the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich, and that the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor, but I do not believe that. I believe that indefensible past inequalities are the cause of the inequalities that exist to-day.
– The honorable member believes that all incomes should be levelled ?
– I believe that that would be an ideal condition. However, whether or not one believes that all incomes should be equal, surely no one can believe that the present vast inequalities of income and living conditions are justified. Secondly, I believe that the people ought to pay according to the protection that they receive from the community. Whatever may be true of former wars, there can be no doubt that if we were to lose this war it would result in the destruction, not only of the liberties of the people, but also of their property and capital rights. Personal and civil liberties are the property of every body. The wealthy can, no doubt, enjoy them more fully and comfortably than can the poor, but beyond those liberties there is the possession and enjoyment of property by the wealthy, and the wealthy should be prepared to pay for its protection.
– Have the poor nothing to defend?
– Yes, they have their liberty to defend, and they are paying for its defence in both direct and indirect taxation. Does the honorable member think that working men and working women do not use postage stamps, for instance?
– In buying postage stamps they are paying for a service.
– Part of what they pay is a straight-out tax. It is sometimes very difficult to know where payment for service ends and taxation begins. If it is possible to render a service for a penny, and a charge of 2-Jd. is made for it, then the extra l$d. becomes a tax. In my opinion, there are defects in the proposed methods of raising direct taxation. We should have two income taxes. One should be a tax bearing some relation to the ordinary principles of taxing income ; the other should be a much higher graduated tax on the difference between the pre-war income and the war income of individuals. It should not necessarily apply to companies only. Any person who has been better off since the war than he was before should be paying a very heavy tax on the difference.
– That would apply to wage-earners also.
– Yes, I would apply it to all incomes over and above the amount fairly regarded as an irreducible minimum - say, the sum of £250. There should also be a much more careful and considerate system of exemptions under which many more exemptions would be recognized than is the case now. Taxation should be so carefully graduated as to protect the position of persons who have entered into commitments on behalf of themselves and their families - commitments from which they cannot escape. At the present time, taxation is driving men of moderate means to take away from the universities children who have only partly completed their course. Other children are being taken away from school. In other instances, men are abandoning insurance policies on which .they had paid premiums for years, whilst others are unable to maintain any longer dependent relatives whom they supported in the past. In some countries there is a much more elaborate system of exemptions than we have here. When such a system is in operation, you may fairly increase the rate of taxation. The payment of taxes out of savings ought to be discouraged. The Government should make it as easy as possible for the taxpayer to pay his tax by weekly, monthly, or quarterly instalments, so that he will be paying out of income as he earns it, instead of exhausting his savings.
I do not think that there ought to be any distinction between income of individuals from companies and income from other sources. Instead of having a companies tax, we should have a tax on undistributed profits. Apart from that, income should be taxed in the ordinary way, but according to the method I have suggested. I believe that the Government is right in increasing direct taxation on the higher incomes, and not on the middle incomes. I have listened to a number of lugubrious speeches on this subject, but all the authorities who have written on it are agreed that the present rate of taxation upon the middle range of incomes is disproportionately high. Professor lies, writing in the Argus on the 1st November, has this to say of the Labour Government’s budget -
But Mr. Chifley no doubt had it in mind that in the 1940*41 taxation the middleincome group was hit disproportionately hard.
The same opinion is expressed by the authors of Australia Foots the Bill. Taxation on those groups was so disproportionately high that it would be unfair to increase it further. Many people, particularly those in the middleincome group, are worse off since the war than they were before, but no account is taken of that fact in fixing taxation rates. Such government measures as petrol and paper rationing, and the control of various businesses have diminished the capacity of many persons to earn income, but this is not taken into consideration. A person is required to pay at the same rate whether bis income has diminished or increased since the outbreak of the war. He continues to pay tax at the same rate although his income may have diminished as the direct result of government action. That is true of persons in the middleincome group, and particularly of those at the foot of that range.
To sum up, I believe that the budget should raise as little revenue as possible by indirect taxation. The ideal would be to have no indirect taxation at all. The Government should raise as much as possible by direct taxation, and the scheme of that direct taxation should be so altered as to impose a special burden on those whose income since the war is higher than it was before. There should be, under government control and direction, an expansion’ of credits to provide the necessary money to the community without imposing on the community the eternal burden of interest.
From time to time we hear the voice of the conscriptionist raised in Australia. Such persons conveniently forget that an obligation of military service within Australia is imposed on the people, an obligation which is very onerous and calls for great sacrifice. When they talk of conscription, they always have in mind the raising of forces in Australia for service overseas, particularly in the Middle East. I believe that a great deal of the unpopularity of military service in Australia is due to the fact that men who have been called up for militia training have been treated as potential recruits for overseas service. There has been a tendency to regard militia camps as reservoirs from which men are drawn off from time to time to the Australian Imperial Force. Trainees have been made to feel that there is nothing for them to do in the militia camps. Indeed, for a long time, there really was nothing for them to do. They were called upon to attend an occasional parade, and were given to understand quite plainly that they were wasting their time in the militia camp. They were told that their duty lay overseas, that the place to defend Australia was in Libya or Crete or Greece - anywhere but in Australia. We cannot wonder that parents who were averse to their sons going overseas should object to their being sent to militia camps where they were’ subjected to propaganda of that kind. I do not know what mail the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) receives from soldiers, but perhaps it is not surprising that all of it should be of the same kind. Probably it would be very difficult for a soldier to write saying that he disapproved of other men being sent out of Australia. Difficulties would probably be placed in the way of a man who attempted to write to his parents telling them not to let his brother enlist for overseas service, but when the men come back to Australia they express themselves clearly enough. I have met some of these returned men, and I know that they do not regard as shirkers those who stay in Australia. Returned soldiers from the last war have come to me and asked that their boys who have enlisted be not sent overseas. In some instances, they have asked that boys Of nineteen should not be sent into the front line where their lives would be endangered, but that they should be kept at the base. I am unreservedly against the sending of men to the Middle East. I would not reinforce those we already have there. I would allow the distinction between British and Australian forces in that area to disappear. I would reinforce no troops out of Australia except those in Malaya. That, I believe, can be done under the voluntary system. I have been consistently opposed to raising forces by any means for overseas service, but I am especially against the large-scale sending of men overseas, because I know that that will lead eventually to a demand for conscription. It does not matter what promises are made now; if large numbers of men are sent overseas, then you create a sentiment which will make their reinforcement necessary, and there will be a demand for the sending of reinforcements oven if they must be raised by conscription. The man who takes the recruiting platform implicitly promises the recruit and his relatives that reinforcements will be sent by voluntary recruiting, so long as that lasts, and when it fails, by conscription. For every man that leaves Australia there are two or three relatives that will support conscription. This sentiment in favour of conscription gathers strength like a snowball and will, in time, become irresistible. The honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) repeated the comment of Abraham Lincoln upon conscription. Whilst I am conversant with many of his utterances, I am more deeply concerned, on this matter, with his actions. He imposed a system which allowed a man to purchase for 300 dollars a substitute for military service. The law carried with it a bounty system. When volunteers could not be attracted by the bounty, a person who was drawn in the ballot was permitted to buy a substitute. An extract from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th edition, column 285, by E. H. Crowder, formerly Judge AdvocateGeneral, and a distinguished authority upon the subject of the selective draft, wrote -
On March 3. I8<>3, the .Enrolment Act was passed boldly declaring the liability to military service in the national forces of all males except certain exempted persons between the ages of 20 and 45 . . . Unfortunately the principle of universal liability of all citizens to perforin military service was not carried to its logical conclusion : the law was weakened by provisions authorizing the payment of bounties and the hiring of substitutes.
Goldwin Smith in The United States, refers on p. 256 to the enrolment of substitutes as follows -
Substitutes, in whose persons, as the jesters said, a man might leave his bones on the field of honour and think of it with patriotic pride as he sipped his wine at home.
The practice of Lincoln differed vastly from his profession.
– The United States of America has again introduced the draft system.
– That is true; but the President has assured the nation that no man who is called up in this manner for military service shall serve outside the United States of America. Is the honorable member for Boothby aware of that? The obligation which in the United States of America is imposed by the draft, is the same as that imposed in Australia by the Defence Act.
.- To the honorable member for- Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) I give credit for sin cerity of expression. It is sometimes refreshing to see how his views differ from those of other supporters of the Government, and particularly Ministers. Because his opinions are most sincere I respect them. Unfortunately, their obvious sincerity does not make them correct. If they are fallacious, they will not be advantageous to the country, particularly if he has considerable influence with the people.
As the Government has been in office for only a. month, I find it difficult to criticize the budget, other than to suggest the course that should be pursued. The Government has not had time to demonstrate, by either its activity or inactivity, how efficiently it may perform the functions of government. But if one can judge from the Treasurer’s budget speech, its views and the degree to which it is prepared to give effect to them, one must be very uneasy for the future welfare of the country. The first paragraph of the speech reads -
To-day we are in the throes of the most deadly and devastating war that has ever been waged between nations, and the skies aru dark with clouds of evil portent. The Government has a full realization of the responsibility that- rests upon it to carry out its duty to the country with determination, and all of the capacity at its command.
Those are brave and encouraging words. The la3t paragraph of the document states -
If we value our way of life, if we wish to preserve the liberty we enjoy, to elect Parliaments, and to criticize our various forms of administration freely, then all our resources must be utilized to the full. If the lights of liberty are to continue to burn, we must tend and defend the flame with all the power at our command. Lip service is not enough; the things that count are human courage and endeavour.
But the budget evades every responsibility which the Government should face. It endeavours to finance the war out of the pockets of fewer than 10,000 persons, although the total number of incomeearners in Australia exceeds 3,000,000. Is not that a striking illustration of lip service? The Treasurer has not been “game” to levy an additional direct tax upon one individual who is deemed to be a. supporter of the Labour party.
– Hear, hear!
– The Treasurer has lacked the courage to tax directly any person with an income of less than £2,500. “We are told that if a war is to be waged successfully, all our resources must be mobilized, and that lip service is not sufficient. The budget is virtually a retreat from the war.
To the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who makes merry over the Treasurer’s speech, I say that if the budget results in minimizing the war effort, and fewer munitions and other materials of war are produced for our troops in Tobruk, Syria, Palestine, and Malaya-
– The war expenditure which is proposed by the Labour Government exceeds by £6,000,000 the expenditure contemplated by its predecessor.
– When the Minister for War Organization of Industry was a private member, he criticized the reserve of man-power engaged in nonessential industries. As Minister for War Organization of Industry, he is now able to translate those brave words into action. But what has he done? Since he became a Minister, he has not made a single announcement to encourage us to believe that manpower will be diverted from civil to war production.
This is not the time to consider budgets and financial statements from the political standpoint. The country is in danger, and the price of defeat is the loss of everything that we value, not only our material possessions, but also personal liberty. The maximum war effort should be the minimum that we should strive to obtain. Finance is wrapped up with the achievement of a maximum war effort. I do not seek to withdraw from those with moderate or small incomes the various comforts of life. But if they must surrender those comforts, or a portion of them, in order to enable a greater supply of war equipment to our troops, the sacrifice is not too much to ask of them. The measure of our war effort is to be found in the financial methods which are adopted to conduct the economy of the country. It is not simply a matter of money, or of imposing higher taxes upon this section and that section. The principal consideration is the manner, in which the money, which is left in the community, is employed. If a huge volume of purchasing power be left in the community which creates a demand for civil goods, such as trinkets for the bedroom, dining room and kitchen, skilled men who could otherwise be diverted to the manufacture of shells, machine guns, tanks and planes required for the war effort will be engaged upon making those nonessentials.
– The Minister for War Organization of Industry does not believe that.
– I notice that he has been interjecting in such a way as to cast scorn upon any suggestion that a real effort should be made to organize the country’s industrial resources in order to meet the demands of war.
– It took my predecessor a long time to do nothing.
– The Minister, because of the utterances that he made when he sat in Opposition, cannot evade his responsibility without exposing himself to ridicule. He must nominate the articles that he proposes to classify as non-essential goods, and without which the public must do. To date, he has made no such announcement. He has merely in vague language invited people to invest in war savings certificates.
In effect, Ministers have said to the people, “Gentlemen, we shall not tax you. We shall leave it to you to subscribe to the war effort”. The result of the appeal of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Treasurer has not been encouraging.
– Is the honorable member trying to sabotage the loan?
– I merely repeat what the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board has publicly stated, namely, that the response to the loan to date has not been encouraging. The reason for that is a want of confidence that this Government will maintain the purchasing value of money. That is why people are not putting money into the loan. If the people with savings could be assured that the purchasing value of each £1 put into the loan to-day would be the same three years hence they would respond, but if the possibility is held over their head of inflation reducing the purchasing power of their money, the Government will have some trouble in raising its needs.
Government Members. - How would the honorable member give to the people that assurance?
– One way would be by withdrawing by taxation the purchasing power which creates inflation.
– Why did the honorable member’s Government not do that?
– The present Government is in a very much different position from that occupied by the Government of which I was a member. If the Menzies-Fadden Government had brought down taxation proposals to tap the reservoir of £560,000,000 earned by people in receipt of incomes of £400 or less a year we should not have had one supporter amongst the members of the then Opposition, and we should not have been able to get the proposal through Parliament; but if the present Government has the courage to face the position, I can assure it that it will have adequate support from this side. The whole question of finance is not a matter of squeezing the small man, the middle man, or the big man; it is a matter of diverting resources and materials and the labour required to manufacture those materials from civil to war uses, and the only way in which that can be done is by withdrawing the purchasing power which creates the demand for civil goods. That has been recognized by every country which has attempted to wage a total war. What did Germany do? I have an extract from an address delivered in 1938 by Dr. Schacht, president of the Reichs bank, in which he stated exactly how Germany had financed its re-armament programme. He said quite frankly that he had created and expanded credit until all employment had been absorbed in production of armaments and civil goods. When that stage had been reached the surplus money available in the community had been taken by means of compulsory loans and taxes. When Germany had created sufficient credit to bring every body into employment it was not only possible but also necessary to shift the financing of the country’s efforts over to loans and taxes.
– That sounds like a United Australia party policy.
– The honorable member is very rich in interjections as to what the United Australia party might or might not do, but he has a great admiration for anything with a Labour tang and, for his benefit, I have pleasure in quoting from the report of the committee of union leaders, economists and representatives of the Labour party which was set up last year by the Labour Government of New Zealand to investigate the stabilization of costs and wages in wartime. The following is an extract from that report: -
Currency inflation is the most cruel and the least scientific method of making a levy on the people. It presses most heavily on the poorer members of the community, especially those who have large families to maintain and those on small wages or fixed incomes.
Government Members. - Hear, hear !
– Honorable members opposite greet that statement with facetious applause, but I suggest to them that they ought to study what has happened in the countries which have experienced currency inflation to the people of the classes that honorable gentlemen opposite presume to represent, but really misrepresent. To labour the question of what ought to be done is profitless, because we know that the present Government will probably go on with its proposals; nevertheless, it is the duty of the Opposition to point out to the Government where it is failing and to express the hope that, if it does not heed the warning this time, it will take the warning into account at some future time if it remains in office long enough. We must give to the Government credit for having virtually adopted every suggestion made by members on this side of the committee since war began. The Labour party takes a long time to do so. It took the best part of two years to admit that we should send troops overseas, and a long time to agree to the Empire Air Training Scheme. It lags behind in coming to decisions or in approving of decisions, but it eventually does both and, accordingly, I hope that if it does not immediately bring its financial programme up to date it will eventually do so.
I now come to the question of reinforcement of the Australian Imperial Force abroad. I asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to-day questions about his speech yesterday broadcast through all national stations, in which he made several interesting statements. He said, for instance -
Our army must be supported with the reinforcements it needs. More men must volunteer to serve with the Australian Imperial Force. There can be no avoiding of individual responsibility … I give you my word that I am not “ crying wolf “ when T say that the army of the Australian nation needs men if this nation is to live.
With full knowledge of the position, the Minister for the Army has said that he is not “ crying wolf “ when he says that the Australian Imperial Force needs reinforcements, and that if they are not forthcoming this country will be in grave peril. The time is rapidly coming when members on both sides of this committee - because there are members on this side who are still wedded to the voluntary system - must consider some other system, conscription, if one must give it a name, whereby the forces of Australia overseas shall be properly kept up to strength. The country districts have been practically denuded of men eligible for army service, and I agree with those honorable members who have expressed the view that we must fa.ce doing what, New Zealand has already done, namely, establish compulsion. I remind honorable members opposite that the Labour Government of New Zealand is composed of men who, in the last war, were practically anti-conscriptionists. Some of them went to gaol because of their views. Yet, when the present war broke out, the New Zealand Parliament, without any delay whatever, passed an act requiring each eligible mau in the dominion to join the military forces. I believe that honorable members opposite will soon have to face this issue. It may not be a pleasant one to face, but, if compulsory service is required for the defence of Australia, military considerations should determine where the soldier will serve Australia best, within Australia or overseas.
– We accept that.
– I am pleased to hear it. I believe that Ministers, espe cially the Minister for War Organization of Industry, responsible for the maintenance of the war effort, must get down to details. They must decide what goods are unessential, and what diversion there can be from civil requirements and when that diversion is to be made. T admit that the Government of which I was a member did not do everything that could have been done, but we did sufficient for the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to be able to say a week or two ago, when there appeared to be a greater possibility of trouble developing in the East, that Australia was prepared. Australia is prepared because the Government in office since the war began ensured that it was prepared. Circumstances of Avar will eventually compel the Government to face inescapable facts and tax the lower fields of income, because, unless it does so, it will not be able to wage total Avar. A war effort in name only merely renders lip service and is a retreat from, our obligations. It lets down the people of this country. I fully believe that the majority, if not all, of honorable members opposite, are as anxious as anybody on this side of the committee to wage this Avar successfully. I give to them credit for that, but the method which they have adopted is not likely to succeed. The fact that the Government proposes not to touch a vast field of income will encourage people to believe that Ave can win the war and, at the same time, increase our material comfort. That is not possible. Experience has proved that we must suffer privation, if we are to divert sufficient energy from civil production to provide a successful war effort. Unless the Government measures up to its responsibility, it will fail not only the men of the Australian Imperial Force but. also the people who are within. Australia, and particularly the vast army of small people who have given their political support to it. This is no time to quibble about what the previous Government failed to do. We should determine what ought to be done now and get on with the job. The Government of whiCh I was a member was unable to do certain things because it could not obtain enough support in this chamber. However, the present Government does not suffer that disability; it can obtain support from this side of the chamber if it takes the proper steps.
– To what does the honorable member refer?
– I refer to necessary taxation measures, such as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) mentioned. He said courageously and frankly that he believed in direct taxation. He said’ that nobody should be better off as the result of the war, and that anybody who benefited from the war should be subject to heavy taxation. Figures indicate plainly that hundreds of thousands of Australians are better off now than they were before the outbreak of the war. Does any body believe that we can allow that state of affairs to continue and, at the same time, conduct a. major war effort? Honorable members opposite know full well that we must exact tribute from every individual in the community if we are to deal justly by the nation as a whole. The budget provides for the imposition of extra direct taxation on only 10,000 individuals out of a total of 3,000,000 income-earners. That fact belies the opening words of the Treasurer’s budget speech, that the Government proposed to wage a maximum war effort with all of the courage and determination that it possessed. It must get down to tin-tacks; it may evade its responsibilities for the time being and it may seek to catch votes in the event of a snap election, but it must get down to essentials soon if it is to do its duty as the people expect.
I refer now to conditions in the primary industries. Whilst costs have been rising, and wages in secondary industries have increased, primary producers have continued to receive fixed prices for their products. This cannot go on indefinitely. A balance must be struck as between secondary industries, and primary industries. Rural districts all over Australia are bearing a heavy burden as the result of the war. Many business premises are vacant in almost every country town. They have suffered from an exodus of men who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, or obtained employment in munitions works, attracted by the high rates of pay offered to them. If this sort of thing continues our primary producers will become serfs. This Government has made many declarations of its interest in rural industries, but the first evidence that we have of any such interest is the appointment to the Commonwealth Bank Board of a Sydney solicitor in place of Mr. Drummond, who was a representative of the primary industries. The first action of a government sincerely desirous of helping the country districts would have been to replace one country representative with another on the board of that great financial institution. If the appointment of Mr. Taylor to the bank board is an earnest of the Government’s intentions, it will offer no consolation to the country people who hoped for more considerate treatment.
– One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems was that representation of sectional interests should be done away with.
– Yes, if they art country interests, apparently. But the sectional interests represented by the trade unions are not done away with. The unions are given preference at every opportunity. I hope that when the proposed mortgage bank bill finally sees the light of day at the hands of the present Government it will show more evidence of sympathy for the man on the land than has the latest action of the Government. I am sorry that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) is not now in the chamber. He is probably packing his bags for his journey overseas. The honorable member, whose vote helped to place this Government in office, ought to remain at his post and help us to see the mortgage bank bill passed into law. The bill was written into the budget of the Fadden Government, and I have very little faith that the present Government will make more than a formal measure of it.
– It was written into the budget, but that was where it began and ended.
– I shall havemuch, pleasure at some future date in learning from the honorable member how much, benefit the farmers of his electorate have. received from the mortgage bank legislation prepared and enacted by the Government which he now supports.
Earlier to-day I asked a question of the Minister for the Army regarding the employment of prisoners of war in Australia. I asked the honorable gentleman whether it was a fact, as reported in the press, that two Australian prisoners who had escaped from Benghazi had reported that Australians in the hands of the Italians were required to work seventeen hours a day on harbour, road and other works. I then asked whether the Government would consider employing in some useful capacity the thousands of enemy prisoners . whom we are feeding in this country. They could be put to work on roads, waterworks and other public utilities instead of being a drag on the resources of the nation, which is already short of man-power. The Minister said that he would make inquiries on the subject. From whom will he make his inquiries - from the Italian Commandant at Benghazi? His answer was an evasion. “We ought to do what the enemy is doing, and make reasonable use of enemies who fall into our hands. It is expected in modern war that prisoners shall do some kind of work. I believe that officers are exempt, but the Germans are working thousands of private soldiers, whilst we, under our humanitarian system as some call it - though I call it lack of courage - are incarcerating prisoners in internment camps and employing hundreds of people to guard and feed them. That is the most stupid thing imaginable.
– What did the previous Government do about it?
– That is the favourite interjection of the honorable member for Griffith. The Government of which I was a member was prevented from doing what I suggest because of the attitude of honorable members opposite. The present Government is not restricted in the same way, because it can obtain adequate support from this side of the chamber for any action in the direction that I propose. If this Government does not want to be another Ramsay MacDonald Government, preaching what ought to be done and then failing to do what it preaches, it will accept the well-meant advice of honorable members on this side of the chamber, and thus secure their support. I have no wish to embarrass it in the prosecution of a major war effort. I shall raise my voice in the strongest possible criticism whenever I feel that the Government’s war effort, is mainly lip service, and when its words are not being translated into action. If the Government faces its responsibilities as it should do in this critical period, it will receive every possible support from honorable members on this side of the chamber. We shall not embarrass it in any sense if it is prepared to do everything possible to ensure a first-class war effort; but the Government cannot expect our support unless it faces its responsibilities squarely and in the best interests of the nation. I pledge myself to support the Government in a maximum war effort, but I also pledge myself to do my utmost to remove it from office in the quickest possible time whenever I feel that it is failing in its duty.
– The honorable gentleman should remember that the Government of which he was a member was in office for a long time, and that it did not do many of the things that he is now saying should be done.
– I shall leave the people of Watson to deal with the honorable member and his interjections and speeches at the next elections. I feel sure that when they get the opportunity to do so they will return a different member to this Parliament.
I trust that persons engaged in rural industries in Australia will be given much more consideration in the future than they have received in the past, and in that remark I shall include the Government of which I was a member if honorable members opposite so desire. Heavy burdens have been placed on the shoulders of the primary producers in consequence of war conditions, and the time has arrived when the Government should do something to alleviate their conditions. I instance the price of butter, which has not been increased since the beginning of the war, although all the costs associated with butter production have shown marked advances. Applications for permission to increase the price of butter have been made to the Commonwealth
Prices Commissioner but have been deferred. Increased prices are operating very severely against the interests of people who live in country districts.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A few weeks ago when the Government supported by honorable members opposite was staggering to its well-merited doom it was the general opinion of thinking people in the community that the Government parties were degenerating into a political rabble. Nothing that honorable members opposite have said in the course of this debate, or that they have done in the few weeks in which they have been sitting in the cool shades of Opposition, has indicated that there has been any improvement of their mental outlook, or any clarification of their political views. Their speeches on the budget have been entirely barren of any constructive suggestions. Their criticisms have, in fact, ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. Honorable members opposite have not even been good witnesses against this Government. I recall the story of a solicitor who was required to summon a number of witnesses to appear in court. He said to them: “It does not matter what you say so long as you all say the same thing.” Honorable gentlemen opposite have not even conformed to that dictum. So far they have been like a team of rogue elephants, pulling in every conceivable direction. Their speeches have given no evidence of any fixed objective, and their whole aim has been simply .to embarrass the Government. Some of the speeches reveal curious inconsistencies. First of all the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) remarked that the Chifley budget was basically the same as the Fadden budget. Since that speech was made, many other opinions have been voiced concerning the Chifley budget. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) said that the Chifley budget was designed for vote catching. He appeared to base his opinion on. the fact that the Government had chosen not to swat people on the lower incomes with higher taxes. The honorable gentleman, however, went on to say that the Government deserved censure because it had inflicted indirect taxes, esti mated to yield £9,000,000 a year, the greater portion of which would fall on workers who habitually support and vote for the Labour party.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), who is usually a mildly-spoken gentleman, said that this was a sordid budget because it provided increases for invalid and old-age pensioners. He considered that this was no time for increasing social service payments. He apparently forgot that the British Government, during the greatest stress of the war, when the country was being continually bombed, and was in daily danger of invasion, increased the rate of the old-age pension by 10s; a week. The honorable gentleman would have us believe that in a budget of £325,000,000, the largest ever presented to this Parliament, an increase by £1,500,000 of the amount provided for payments to invalid and old-age pensioners would have a ruinous effect upon our finances and might possibly prevent us from winning the war. The honorable gentleman, like his confreres, professes great sympathy for the pensioners, but I remind him that sympathy will not butter the pensioners’ bread. It should be realized that pensioners have to meet the increased cost of living, just as do other sections of the community. Most pensioners in our cities have to live in rented rooms. Landlords lose no opportunity to increase the rents of their properties, and this has involved pensioners in heavily increased costs. The honorable member for Wakefield also expressed the opinion that the workers should be more heavily taxed in order that they may not be able to spend their increased earnings in the purchase of commodities. Will the honorable gentleman tell us under what conditions he would tolerate the workers enjoying some of the amenities of life ? During the depression years 50 per cent, of the workers lived on the dole, and the rest of them on casual employment. Only since the outbreak of the war have many thousands of these people been able to secure constant employment, and now that they have the privilege of working regularly, the honorable member for Wakefield considers that they should be prevented from spending their earnings* Many of these people are just now emerging from the suffering which the depression inflicted upon them, and it seems to me to be most unreasonable that the honorable gentleman should adopt his present attitude towards thom. I should like to know when he would be prepared to approve of the workers being allowed to rise just a little above the level of the gutter of depression. The honorable gentleman protested against the principle of compulsory unionism, but supported compulsory military service overseas. He said, in effect, “ For Heaven’s sake have nothing to do with compulsory unionism, but by all means let us have conscription “. So much for his views !
I turn now to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price), who also argued that the voluntary system should be abandoned in favour of some form of compulsion. He. assured us that he was in favour of compulsory taxation because it was socialistic. To hear that from the honorable member for Boothby was just a little too fruity, yet the honorable gentleman went on to find fault with the taxation proposals of the Government. He argued that the decision of the Government to take into account the joint earnings of husband and wife for taxation purposes would discourage marriage and might even lead to immorality. The only reason the learned gentleman gave in support of that argument was that in the United States of America, at one time, after it was decided, by the Government that upon their marriage women must resign from the public service, it was said that a good deal of immorality followed. On such slender evidence the honorable gentleman asked us to believe that the decision to take into account the joint income of husband and wife for taxation purposes might lead to immorality and the discouragement of marriage! He evidently forgot that if women remained single they would still be liable to taxation. There is, in fact, no escape from taxation by taking refuge in marriage.
There was, however, nothing original in the speech of the tory-minded honorable member for Boothby, because similar suggestions have been made by members of his political party on every occasion when legislation has been passed by the
Parliaments of Australia for the benefit of the women of the country. I well remember that when the maternity allowance proposals were first debated in this Parliament honorable gentlemen of the same political kidney as the honorable member for Boothby stated that the mothers of Australia would spend the allowance, not on the upbringing of their children, but on jewellery and luxuries for themselves. In fact, the Opposition of the day dubbed the maternity allowance the “ bangle bonus “. When the child, endowment proposals of the Labour Government of New South Wales were introduced members of the antiLabour party said that it would lead to “ breeding like rabbits “ in order that women might obtain 5s. a week for each child. When the same Government introduced its plan for the payment of widows’ pensions, members of the anti-Labour Opposition contended that the pension would be an inducement to widows to refrain from remarriage. It was said that women would prefer to remain widows and live immorally in order to obtain £1 a week in pension from the Government. It is remarkable that an honorable gentleman representing an electorate in what is known as the “ wowser “ State of South Australia should bring into question the morality of the womanhood of the country simply to bolster up a puerile argument against the budget of a Labour government.
The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) has been the only honorable gentleman opposite, so far, to make a. constructive suggestion. He thought that the Government should do away with its present economic advisers. The honorable gentleman has been very late in making his discovery that such action would be wise, for he was a member of a government in New South Wales, which, for many years, placed great value on the views of its so-called economic advisers. The honorable gentleman did not take any exception to the retention of economic advisers by the Fadden Government. It is only now that a Labour government has come into office that he has seen the light. I do not agree -with the political views of the honorable member for Robertson, but on this issue I am at onewith him. The advice given by these learned individuals has been remarkable in many ways. In 1931, they considered that the workers were receiving too much in wages. They advised the adoption of the Premiers Plan with a reduction of 22½ per cent, in both wages and social services. In 1941 the same economic advisers did not propose to the Fadden Government that the workers should have their wages reduced by 22½ per cent., because they knew very well first that no government would be game to accept such advice, and secondly that the workers, for the first time for many years, had the whip-hand, but they proposed, instead, that a system of compulsory loans and increased taxation should be enforced. The effect, of course, would be just the same as a reduction of wages. Consequently I hope that this Government will dispense with such ill-balanced consultants. The so-called economic advisers are not likely, in my opinion, to offer any worthwhile proposals to ensure economic equilibrium in Australia. It appears that all they are concerned about is the attacking of the workers, the reducing of living standards, and the sabotaging of civil industry. A review of the advice of these economists over the last decade shows clearly the advisableness of throwing them overboard. But I wonder whether the honorable member for Robertson gave similar advice to the Fadden Government? There does not appear to be any evidence that he did so. The chief fault that the honorable gentleman has found with the Chifley budget is that it does not propose to swat people on the lower income ranges.
To sum up, I find that the honorable member for Robertson is an unrepentant sinner, because for seven years he was a member of an anti-Labour government in New South Wales and was trained under Sir Bertram Stevens, a gentleman who, as soon as we emerged from the depression, lifted taxation from the higher incomes but failed to repeal the socalled emergency wages tax on lower incomes, and, in fact, made it a permanent part of the taxing procedure of the State, The honorable member for Robertson desires the Government to the wealthy classes of the com munity of their responsibility to pay their proportion of the cost of the war, and to impose heavier taxes on the working classes. The only good suggestion that the honorable member made was that the Government should dismiss the economic advisers who have been responsible for the wrecking of two Commonwealth governments.
A notable feature of the speeches of honorable gentlemen opposite has been their mischievous propaganda in advance of the Government’s loan policy. I am beginning to wonder what is behind this effort of the Opposition to sabotage the possibilities of success for the Government’s war loan programme. I wonder what would have happened under National Security Regulation No. 42a if similar views had been expressed by the Opposition of a few months ago outside this chamber. It should be remembered that the Chifley budget was prepared in three weeks. Moreover, we have been informed that the Government intends to bring down a supplementary budget in March of next year. That, of course, will be necessary, for the Government has only tentatively accepted the Fadden estimates, until it has had an opportunity to examine the country’s commitments.
One feature of the budget is that it provides concessions to soldiers and their dependants, and to pensioners, involving an increased annual expenditure of £5,659,000. These have been made by a Government the members of which, on occasions, have been charged with disloyalty and with a lack of sympathy for soldiers. The Fadden Government, which professed so much lip-loyalty, also intended to increase the pay of soldiers. The difference between the policy of the Curtin Government and that of the Fadden Government in this respect is that the increased pay to soldiers is being provided immediately by this Government, whereas the increases proposed by the Fadden Government were in the form of deferred pay. The Fadden Government proposed to leave it to some other government to find the money later on, and to leave the dependants of soldiers to cope with the cost of living now as best they could. Obviously, the wives and children, of soldiers have been the victims of the exploiters of the public just like the rest of the community. I can see no justification whatever for delaying the payment of increases to service men and their dependants. The same thing may be said in relation to pensioners.
A good deal of stress has been laid by some honorable members opposite on the gulf between revenue and expenditure, which is to be bridged by loans and bank credits. It has been said by practically every honorable gentleman opposite who has participated in the debate that under the Chifley budget a gap of £137,000,000 exists between estimated revenue and estimated expenditure, but not many of them took the trouble to point out that there was a corresponding gap of £122,000,000 in the Fadden budget. The difference between the two is £15,000,000. A review of the Fadden estimates convinces me that economies will be possible which will go a considerable distance towards bridging this gap. As a matter of fact within a few days of taking office the Labour Government was able to effect a saving of £115,000 in two departments alone. I believe that by the judicious use of the pruning knife it will be possible to cut away many extravagances of the previous Government. An exploration of such possibilities in regard to the manufacture of munitions will be worth while. We have now passed through the difficult stage of trial and error in relation to the manufacture of munitions, and it should be possible in the near future to avoid many of the high charges that were incurred in the early and more or less experimental days of our manufacturing operations. A vast deal of non-recurring expenditure was represented in the total cost of our munitions manufacturing programme. For these reasons I suggest that we may safely suspend our decision on how the gap between expenditure and revenue can be bridged.
It has been argued by honorable members opposite that voluntary loan subscriptions will diminish because of the extra taxation being imposed on the wealthy sections of the community. What are the facts of the situation ? Under the Fadden budget new taxes were estimated to yield £7,000,000 and compulsory loans £25,000,000, making a total of £32,000,000. Under the Chifley budget new taxes are estimated to yield £22,000,000. But the Chifley budget relieves lower incomes of taxes amounting to £10,500,000, of which £6,500,000 was to be obtained from compulsory loans. If we deduct £10,500,000 from the Fadden imposts, the levy on higher incomes is practically the same. Many thousands of income earners in the £400 to £1,500 range subscribe directly or indirectly to loans through bank deposits. As these potential subscribers are not being called upon to pay increased taxation it may be that their voluntary contributions to loans will compensate for any lag in other subscriptions. Actually, taking everything into consideration, the Chifley budget provides for less to be taken from incomes over £400 than did the Fadden budget. If it will be impossible for a Labour Government to raise £137,000,000 by voluntary subscriptions, I ask what prospect the previous Government had of raising the £122,000,000 which it required?
During this debate the Opposition has extolled the virtues of the compulsory loan policy proposed in the Fadden budget. It has been argued that compulsory loans were justified because the voluntary loan policy had failed, because compulsory loans meant compulsory savings and therefore less spending, and because the repayment of these loans after the war would place in the hands of the people an amount of money which would be most useful in the post-war reconstruction period. What are the facts ? I suggest that loans raised by this Government will inspire more confidence, because at least a date of maturity will bo fixed’, on which the investors can expect the repayment of their money. The Fadden Government did not fix a date for the redemption of its proposed compulsory loans or of the amount proposed to be added to the deferred pay of the soldiers. Had its budget been put into operation, those in a position to subscribe to war loans would have adopted the attitude: “You have taken so much compulsorily, you will get no more voluntarily.” I believe that the field open to the present Labour Government for the exploitation of the public purse by means of voluntary loans will prove much, more fruitful, and that the policy of this Government will inspire more confidence than would have been inspired by the policy of the Fadden Government.
There has been a good deal of talk, fundamentally stupid, in regard to luxury and non-essential industries. A remarkable feature of it is that none of those who have discussed the matter so freely is prepared to define luxury and non-essential industries. The theory advanced is that the less one spends on civil production the more one can continue to spend on the war. There is a limitation to such a policy. No government engaged in this war is following it, despite the assurances of honorable gentlemen opposite to the contrary. What was the position of Germany before it overran Europe? It first sought trade agreements with every country in Europe by conciliatory methods. After it had overrun them, there was no need for trade agreements because it then had the whole of their trade. Even to-day, with Turkey remaining neutral, Germany is negotiating trade agreements with that country. This clearly indicates that it realizes the necessity to maintain its internal economy in order that it may be able to pay for its war commitments out of the pool of wealth thus created.
Much has been said with respect to the efforts and sacrifices of Great Britain I do not offer captiously or antagonistically, criticism of the Government of Great Britain. I believe that it has done the right and the only possible thing in order to prevent the economic collapse of that country. With this object, it is fostering and protecting overseas trade, in order to ensure a continual flow of wealth into the country with which it may pay for the war effort. Exports of produce and manufactures by the United Kingdom in 1938 were valued at £470,000,000. In 1939, the first year of the war, their value was £439,000,000, and in 1940 it was £413,000,000. There was a reduction of the export trade of Great Britain by only £26,000,000 between 1939 and 1940, despite the fact that the whole of Europe, which had been its largest customer, had been cut off from its trade. This indicates clearly that, although it lost in one direction, it guarded markets in every other direction, for the excellent reason that, without such trade, it would have been faced with the possibility of economic collapse.
Much has been said concerning the war effort of the Government of New Zealand, by anti-Australians who sit opposite, and who never have a good word to say for Australia or anything Australian, including its war effort. The Deputy Leader of the Government of New Zealand (Mr. Nash) has said in the press that more than 11,000 New Zealanders are directly employed in making munitions and military supplies. The number in Australia so employed is over 200,000. He went on to say that last year the exports of New Zealand were valued at £73,700,000, the highest figure ever recorded. This indicates that New Zealand realizes that it must maintain that pool of wealth production, out of which it must pay for its war effort. Let me compare that with the position in Australia, where the exports of merchandise for the last three years have been as follows: -
That is to say, during the period in which the value of exports from Great Britain declined by 6 per cent., the value of exports from Australia declined by 10 per cent., despite the fact that their volume was increased by the sending of supplies to the Eastern Group Supply Council at Delhi. We must consider, therefore, what this war has meant to Australian wealth production. No body will deny that the future of our primary produce markets is uncertain. It is true that we have sold our wool, but the price has been stationary, and will remain so until the end of the war. It is true that we have sold the great bulk of our wheat, but most of it has been sold to the East, and if war comes in the Pacific, what then? Our other primary products are in a similarly precarious position, and while the income from exports is either fixed or uncertain, the prices of imported raw materials and plant for raw production have skyrocketed out of all - proportion. As a result, our national economy is unbalanced, and we have been forced to consider where we shall discover new sources of income to take the place of those which we have lost by the closing of our export markets. The war has given to Australia a remarkable opportunity to produce secondary goods for its own use, and even for export. Because of shipping restrictions and exchange difficulties, Australian manufacturers are being called upon to supply many of the commodities which were formerly imported. Manufacturers have been freed from cheap labour competition, and now have the opportunity to improve their status in the community. The Government should encourage new secondary industries to replace the income lost in the marketing of primary products. There is nothing more uneconomic than war and preparations for war. Even in peace-time, war equipment deteriorates and becomes outmoded in about ten yea rs, and must be replaced, while in war-time it is quickly used up or destroyed. It behoves us to balance our national economy. “We must maintain and increase the wealth pool out of which we pay for the extravagance of wai-; otherwise we face the grave possibility of economic collapse before the war is over, or the certainty of such a collapse immediately afterwards. Yet, what did the previous Government do - the Government that talked so much of a maximum war effort? It deliberately discouraged exports. I know of merchants who were in a position to open up new markets involving exports to the value of millions of pounds to another British dominion, but this trade was deliberately discouraged by departments while the last Government was in office. Whether it was done at the behest of some one working behind the scenes I cannot say. Furthermore, the last Government, by the restriction of supplies to industries for the production of goods both for home use and for export, prevented the expansion of industry at the very time that it accepted vast commitments from the Delhi Council. Let me give to ‘honorable members an example of what happened in regard to two commodities in daily use, clothing and boots. Early last year, the clothing trade in Australia was in a very serious position because of the time which textile manufacturers were required to devote to the production of military supplies. At that time, mills were required to give up 70 per cent, of their time for this purpose. On to the demands of our own Defence Department there was superimposed a demand from Delhi for millions of yards of cloth. The difficulties of the trade have not yet been overcome. An example of what occurred is afforded in the case of one firm named Toddlers Limited which, as the name implies, dealt only in clothing for very young children. This firm made representations to Senator Mcleay, who was then Minister for Supply, to have some of the looms freed from military work for the production of supplies of children’s clothing for the approaching winter. These representations were set forth in the following letter : -
It has come to my knowledge, that as a result of an application from the Saddlers Association, you have seen fit to allocate certain looms from certain mills to produce adequate supplies of saddle serge and collar check rug and horse linings, so as to satisfy the comfort and warmth of the animals requiring this protection next winter, and it occurred to me that a similar request entered for supplies on behalf of the children might not prove remiss, and would, I feel sure, warrant your consideration.
The firm received the following reply from the secretary of the Minister : -
Whilst it is regretted that the exigencies of war should interfere with the production of children’s clothing, the Minister feels sure that the youngsters will willingly accept the sacrifice in the interest of our national defence requirements.
That was the attitude of members of the last Government ! They could spare looms in the woollen mills, despite the war effort, in order that the two and threeyearold horses that gambolled around Randwick, and so often sent the punters home broke, might be warmly rugged, but they felt sure that tiny children would be willing to accept sacrifices in the national interest and go without proper clothing during the winter.
While the clothing trade in Australia is finding it most difficult to obtain supplies of civilian clothing, an attempt is being made by British merchants to flood the Australia market with their goods. I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to see 350 samples of woollens sad worsteds sent here by a firm in Great Britain. So anxious is the firm to get the trade that it is prepared to accept orders in Australia for a single suit length, and if the customer sent his measurements he could get the suit made up. In a recent issue of the Drapers’ Organizer, a special issue of which has been prepared for distribution in Australia and New Zealand, the leading article states -
The situation has resolved itself for all to see. Great Britain has continued to “Deliver the Goods and the armed might of the Royal Navy is the guarantee of future deliveries. We see no reason to vary in any way the advice which we have given consistently to buyers in Australasia since the beginning of the war, viz. : “ Go on sending orders to the United Kingdom through your usual trade channels for the goods which you genuinely require. There is no material cause to doubt that, in the future as in the past, the United Kingdom will do her best - and a very good best - to supply the cotton, woollen, silk and rayon goods which you require”. At least give Britain first chance!
It shows that the Home Country’s unparalleled war effort is not preventing its manufacturers from delivering the bulk of the merchandise you want. Raw materials are assured. We have the wool, the cotton, the flax - and most important, the ability to transform these into utility and luxury fabrics and into clothes of precisely the type you are seeking. Moreover, our productive rapacity is safeguarded in the matter of skilled operatives.
Honorable members opposite want to pull skilled operatives out of these trades in order to place them in munitions factories, but evidently that is not the view taken in Great Britain. The article continues -
You will read a lot about the concentration of industry, but the Government is taking every precaution against dislocation of export trade and the disappearance through merger of trade marks well known in your market for their sales prestige.
British textile houses continue to offer quality and variety little, if at all, short of those available in peace time. At the moment there may be difficulties in supplying Australian and New Zealand buyers with all the British textiles they would like, but not all drapery and fashion merchandise is rationed. The wise buyer is losing no time, however, in placing orders. Scarcity in certain lines demands the greatest care in the selection of the right goods.
While Great Britain is taking every precaution against the dislocation of its export trade, the Menzies’ Government did everything possible to restrict exports, and to prevent our secondary industries from supplying the needs of this country and the demand from overseas. The difference between the policy of the Menzies Government, and that of the British Government, is most marked. Whilst honorable members opposite preach a policy of destroying Australia’s industries, limiting their operations, restricting their expansion and hampering the export trade, the British Government realizes the necessity for maintaining <a pool of wealth which is created by the export trade in order vigorously to prosecute the war effort. It actually guarantees that the operatives in the industries will not be subjected to interference.
– Earlier, the honorable member cited figures showing that our exports [>vere greater than ever before.
– My figures showed that, during the last twelve months, the value of our export trade has declined by £10,000,000. To impress upon the committee the vigour with which the markets of Australia and New Zealand are being pressed to ‘buy goods from British manufacturers whose factories are supposed to be entirely converted to the production of war equipment, I point out that the trade journals contain references to a service which entitles prospective customers to despatch free of charge to England a cable of 25 words for the purpose of making inquiries about the goods. The necessary vouchers for the cable service are obtainable from branches of the Union Bank of Australia Limited.
As the result of the generosity of the Eastern Group Supply Council at Dehli, Australian boot manufacturers have been v overwhelmed. But I remind the committee of the old adage that “ there are more ways of killing a cat than by choking it with cream “. Apparently Sir Bertram Stevens, the Commonwealth representative on the Eastern Group Council, is endeavouring to choke the Australian boot trade with cream, because he has lodged an enormous order for the manufacture of 80,000 pairs of military boots a week. Needless to say, the order is for cheap lines, on which the profit is small. [Extension of time granted.] At present the manufacturers find it impossible to satisfy the demands of the local retail trade. Boots which were ordered last May, may he delivered at the end of December. Boots which are ordered now, may be delivered next July. The reason is to be found in the overwhelming orders which have been received from the Eastern Group Supply Council. Whilst Australian manufacturers are confined to supplying military boots, the British footwear trade is in such a flourishing condition that the manufacturers have 30,000,000 pairs of shoes ready for export, and are sending to Australia elaborate trade journals to advertise these luxury lines. To-day, this footwear is retailed in Sydney at prices exceeding £3 a pair; but Australian manufacturers are refused permission to manufacture boots and shoes for retailing at 30s. a pair.
If we starve the tailoring trade by denying to it the right to obtain woollen materials at a reasonable price whilst extending preference to goods from overseas at double the price, there will inevitably be luxury goods in the trade. The previous Government has been guilty of, first, the prevention by diverse means of the development of Australia’s export trade ; secondly, the imposition of restrictions on secondary production; and, thirdly, excessive concentration on war supplies, both at home and abroad, in a way detrimental to the economic welfare of Australia. It sounds very nice to be able to say that Australia is the arsenal of the Pacific, but such a position, if we occupy it, will be most unprofitable. It is not profitable to be the arsenal of the Pacific when others are hanging over their premises the “ business as usual “ sign. In my opinion, the Government should immediately adjust Australia’s war commitments, having regard to the following factors: first, how many men we can afford to send abroad ; secondly, how many troops we must retain for home defence; thirdly, how many men we can profitably use for manufacturing war supplies for home requirements and for export; and, fourthly, the maintenance of wealth production. Otherwise, Australia will toboggan to das aster.
Honorable members opposite have touched very lightly upon problems of post-war reconstruction. In a broadcast last week, the Department of Information declared -
Six hundred thousand Australiana will have to he provided for when the armistice is signed and troops return from overseas. Besides the men who return from foreign lands, thousands of men who served as garrison troops and munitions workers of both sexes will ask the question : “ You have remembered me, I suppose?”
Australia has a tremendous job ahead in this field alone, and now is the time to start.
I should add to that the testimony of the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), who indicated that the Government which he led foresaw the possibilities about which the Department of Information expressed concern. The right honorable gentleman stated -
It must be clear to the- most besotted optimist in this country that when ‘this war ends we shall find not only that all of the countries engaged in it have inevitably destroyed great masses of capital, but also that they are confronted by an immediate problem caused by the relative cessation of work in munition factories. We shall then have to deal with one of the greatest problems of re-employment that either this or any other country has ever contemplated. At a time like that, it would be an advantage beyond price for men who had fought and risked their lives for us to be able to return to a place in which they had some security, in the form of accumulated pay which would tide them over the difficulties of the period. It would be far better to treat them in that fashion than to do what I am very much afraid is to be done, namely, let them fight for us, be wounded in our service, return to this country, and then be told: “You have had one war, we present you with another; we now present you with a battle for existence, in a financial and economic state of affairs which we did nothing to provide against while you were away”.
The policy of the United Australia party made that fate inevitable for returned soldiers. Immediately hostilities cease, the services of munition workers will be dispensed with, and troops, upon demobilization, will seek employment. What are the prospects? Potential forms of employment which may have been provided for them from the natural increase of Australian production resulting from war conditions have been destroyed by the policy of the United Australia party. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) says that as surely as night follows day a depression will follow this war. That is the real reason why honorable gentlemen opposite said in their speeches in favour of a compulsory loan that the money would be useful during the transition period. Clearly, the critics of the budget on the opposite side of the chamber to-day foresaw those possibilities. Let us examine what the country’s commitments would have been had the parties opposite continued to govern Australia. Assuming that the war lasts another two years, they would have had to find over £48,000,000 for deferred pay, at least £50,000,000 in respect of compulsory loans, and £12,000,000 for additional deferred pay. That makes a total of £110,000,000. What would they have with which to meet that liability? Had they had their way industry would have Keen stagnant in this country, and there would have been no wealth pool out of which to pay these people.
Mr. Anthony interjecting,
– Although the honorable member who has interjected was a. member of the previous Government, he cannot say on what date the deferred pay would have been paid to soldiers or when the compulsory loans would have been repaid. He must have known that after the war they would have to face the position of finding work for 600,000 people, and £110,000,000 for the require.ments that I have mentioned in addition to the ordinary expenses of government.
The Opposition has had a good deal to say on the subject of a maximum war effort. The present Government has been in office for only about five weeks, yet the Opposition is demanding to know what is being done about Australia’s war effort. What did honorable gentlemen opposite do to bring about a maximum war effort? The fact that bottlenecks exist is largely due to the greed of the experts who were appointed by the previous Government, or of the vested interests that they represent. A spider’s web with its centre in Melbourne has been spread over Australia. In each State large corporations control the distribution of work, raw materials, and machine tools. The Government’s war effort can extend only as far as is permitted by the vested interests whose experts are generally their managing directors.
– They have been reappointed by the Labour Government.
– It is interesting to see how the war effort has been distributed among the States. Victoria has been so glutted with war work that the authorities do not know where to get men and women. Workers have been drawn from Tasmania. When in South Australia in April last, the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee found that the position there was that within six months 60,000 .men and women would be required for new industries, whereas the only people available in that State were about 2,000 persons on the unemployed register, and they were generally said to be unemployable. The only other source of supply was about 8,000 people then employed in other industries who had volunteered for war work. Up to that time the authorities in South Australia had drawn largely on man-power from Western Australia. In New South Wales there is a great concentration of war industries in the city, except in country districts to which the Government has extended its own factories. The position in Queensland presents a serious problem. In that State timber, skilled labour and machinery are available, but they are not utilized fully because 1)he same monopolistic interests are operating in that State. Nothing can get past, except what squeezes through their fingers, and the rest of Queensland is left without work. Tenders are accepted in New South Wales and South Australia for the manufacture of munitions boxes which have to be taken to Queensland for filling, although there is in Queensland an abundance of supplies of the necessary materials, as well as of skilled labour to do the job. Queensland has wooden shipbuilding potentialities, but they are not being exploited. Boat-builders in that State are not given the work which they are capable of performing. Pontoons are being built in South Australia with timber from Queensland. Munitions that could be manufactured in Queensland are being manufactured in other States. The experts are never at a loss for a reason. At first they said that strategic reasons prompted them to glut Victoria and later, South Australia. They said that they feared an attack from the north. Any one with sense would know that even if we established our munitions factories at Alice Springs the fact remains that the main supplies of raw materials come from Port Kembla and Newcastle, which are within easy range of bombardment from the sea, and that once those vulnerable points have been damaged or destroyed, it will matter little where the munitions factories are situated because they will be useless through lack of raw materials. It will be seen that the strategic argument goes by the board. We were told that it was difficult to spread the war effort because of the distances between the places where various units could be produced, but once a monopoly gets a, job, as has been proved in the case of General MotorsHoldens in South Australia, it can arrange to have certain parts manufactured hundreds of miles away. So long as a monopolistic group has a grip of the controls it will see that the work is done, notwithstanding that some of it may be. carried out at great distances from the centre of operations. That applies to machine tools. While we talk about taking skilled men out of nonessential industries without regard to other men and women, unskilled or partially skilled, who would be left without employment, there are 1,000 engineers north of Mackay in Queensland, including 230 in Cairns district alone, who have never turned a nut or bolt in the war effort. Yet we talk about smashing other industries in order to obtain mechanics. Plant and men are available there, but no jobs are available to them because of the influence of these monopolies. Honorable members opposite “ squeal “ about heavy taxation, but what about these people in the north of Queensland? They pay taxes but get no return out of the war expenditure. Gradually country districts are being depopulated, losing both men and their families. The Man-power and Resources Survey Committee made a number of recommendations to which I hope the Government will give earnest consideration and take appropriate action regardless of the advice of the so-called experts.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The flood of angry interjections from the Government benches whenever a member of the Opposition criticizes the budgetwould lead one to believe that Government supporters are afraid that the budget does not measure up to the standard which an all-in war effort demands. Government supporters have indicated both by speech and by interjection their belief that the previous Government had no interest in the war. That charge is utterly false, but I do concede that at a recent Gallup poll on the question of whether the people were satisfied with the war effort of the United Australia partyCountry party Governments only 33 per cent, of the voters expressed satisfaction, whereas 43 per cent, were dissatisfied. Of the remainder, 20 per cent, were undecided and only 4 per cent, were unable to express an opinion. I, myself, was not satisfied with the former Government’s war effort, but since war broke out we have gone a long way towards making Australia more secure than it was before the war, and, had the present Government, been in power since September, 1939, 1’ am certain that the momentum given to the war effort by the former Government would have been lacking, and there would have been a greater outcry of dissatisfaction from the people. I say that, because the Labour Government is composed of honorable members who before the outbreak of war did not1 believe in defence.
The cardinal error in this budget is its failure to provide for increased taxation of the earners of incomes of less than £1,500 a year. The Government has left untapped a vast reservoir. The great majority of Australians realize the necessity to meet the enormous war bill, and they are satisfied that they must pay in money as well as in kind. No one would suggest that the people would whimper about, making a direct contribution in cash. To do so would be to misjudge the national morale. For a. long time after the outbreak of war there was great apathy in this country. At times there were spurts of enlistment, but at other times no men were prepared to volunteer. In fact, at one time, the former Government did not seek further enlistments, and members of the then Opposition were pleased that fewer men were needed for military service. I believe, however, that supporters of the present Government were largely responsible for that apathy, and for the belief that the war could be fought without the assistance of Australia, either in man-power or in money, except money taken from the rich or produced by expansion of credit. Time and again, when in opposition, Government supporters claimed in this Parliament that the rich must pay for the war. “ Sock and soak the rich “ was their creed. I hold no brief for the rich - I am not a. rich man - and it is true that the rich may have a greater stake in this country than the poor, but rich and poor, or, to put it in the other way, poor and rich alike desire to live under the flag of freedom in Australia. The rich have their privileges, but so too have other sections of the community. For instance, Australian workers have the right to organize and. the privilege of unionism, whereas in Nazi Germany, Hitler, and in Fascist Italy, Mussolini, have broken up the labour organizations. The same state of affairs exists in all the Nazi-occupied countries, the people of which are enslaved and willnot be able to organize themselves in unions for a long time to come. Therefore, in Australia the workers, as well as the rich, have something to fight, for their lives and their ways of living are at stake. Of what use would money or property be to the rich if we lost the war? Equally, of what use would trade unions be to the workers if the British Empire went down. In that event, every one of us would be enslaved.
The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in his budget makes a feature of the benefits that will accrue from Government policy, but examination shows that the net result will be that the increased sales tax, postal charges and customs and excise duties will yield an additional £5,750,000 which will be offset by the distribution of an additional £5,800,000 to meet charges additional to those provided for in the Fadden budget. In the lower groups of incomes an additional spending power of about £73,000 will be produced. When Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), speaking on the Fadden budget, said that Australia wanted more spending power and that it was wise to give to the soldiers an additional1s. a day, which would cost an extra £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 a year. At that time, the honorable gentleman wanted to increase the spending power of the people, but now, since becoming Prime Minister, he wants the people to save; otherwise some action to compel saving will be put into operation. The honorable gentleman emphasized when Leader of the Opposition that the pay and allowances of soldiers and their wives and dependants should be increased in order to raise their spending power. I admit the justice of higher pay for the soldiers. Either the pay of the soldiers should be more in line with that of munitions workers or the pay of munitions workers should be on the same level as that of the soldiers. Many young men who have no more skill or ability than the average soldier are sheltering in munitions factories today and without the soldiers’ risks are receiving nearly twice as much pay as is received by the soldiers, who have to be on duty for 24 hours, not eight hours, a day. The men in the factories have been given greater spending power and all kinds of luxuries; yet they pay very little tax. If the Fadden budget proposal to give to the soldiers an extra1s. a day by way of deferred pay had been accepted, between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 a year would have been set aside for them, and, if the war lasted another three years, about £20,000,000 would have been saved on their behalf. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) mentioned the likelihood of a depression when the war ends, and said that the soldiers who return from the war will find no work and that the munitions workers will be unemployed.
– The honorable member for Dalley was quoting what had been said by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard).
– Yes, but he agreed with what the honorable member for Bass had said. Most of us do agree as to that likelihood. After the war whenwe shall need to stimulate the spendingpower of the community and our returned soldiers will need something to tide them over until they are able to go back to their normal civil occupations, a sum of £20,000,000 would be very beneficial. I feel sure that the soldiers themselves would not object if the increase of their pay was made in a lump sum on their return from the war. After the last war, deferred pay and war gratuities paid to soldiers amounted to about £50,000,000. The present Government, however, wishes the increased pay to go into circulation at once. If such a huge sum could be found after the last war, surely there would be no difficulty in finding the £110,000,000 mentioned by the honorable member for Dalley after this war. When speaking on the Eadden budget, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) doubted the ability of Australia to pay after the war.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– Surely Australia would still be solvent, and when money was no longer required for war purposes, it should be comparatively easy to find the £110,000,000 that would be required. The members of this Government would not consider the proposal in the Fadden budget for the compulsory saving of £25,000,000 by those on lower incomes. The Gallup poll discloses that the people who favoured compulsory saving in wartime outnumbered those opposed to the proposal by two to one. Amongst those on the lower ranges of income, 45 per cent, favoured compulsion, whilst 28 per cent, were against it. The poll also disclosed that, of Labour supporters, 45 per cent, were in favour of compulsion and 35 per cent, were against it. Of other voters, the figures were 65 per cent, and 19 per cent., respectively. This Government will have to find the £25,000,000. whether by compulsion or otherwise. The Government proposes to find the money by borrowing; but at what rate of interest? The Fadden budget proposed to pay interest at the rate of 2 per cent, on compulsory savings. If the present Government has to pay interest at the rate of 3i per cent, on this £25,000,000, an additional interest burden of £312,000 per annum will be placed on the ‘Commonwealth. Of the two proposals, the compulsory savings plan was the better, as it satisfied the people and was in the best interests of Australia.
No one begrudges the old-age pensioners their pension, but can any honorable member say that they sought an increase of the pension rate?
– Of course they did.
– They were prepared to let the matter rest with the Government. Old-age pensioners as a class are thrifty people. The old-age pensioners in South Australia have donated to the Australian war loan an amount of £1,000 free of interest. That is a creditable effort. A short time ago, I forecast that, if Labour took office, the new Labour government would claim credit for Australia’s war effort. Already, Ministers are claiming most of the credit for what has been done by past governments. 1 well remember that when the National Security Bill was before us at the beginning of this war the members of the present Government to a man voted against the measure upon which depended all the attendant regulations for the security of this country and the prosecution of the war. Yet honorable members opposite have the temerity to boast of what they have done to assist the war effort. The Prime Minister has proudly boasted that Australia is in a position to-day to defend itself. If it is prepared, no credit is due to the present Government or to those honorable members who support it. Rather is all credit due to the Menzies Government which laid the foundation of the present war effort. Those of us who have been privileged to go into our factories which are engaged in aircraft construction and the production of guns, ammunition and war material have first-hand knowledge of what Australia is doing. If the people could have only realized what splendid work was done by the Menzies and Fadden Governments to organize and marshal our resources so much unfair criticism would not have been levelled against them. The Menzies Government was too modest. It said too little of what was being done, preferring to concentrate its whole energy on keeping the wheels of industry moving in order to ensure the provision of an unending stream of war materials for our troops. We have been told that the Minister for the Army is investigating the expenditure of between £14,000,000 and £15,000,000 on camps for the Navy, Army and Air Force. Those of us who have had the privilege of inspecting these camps are aware that only the bare necessaries are found for our fighting services. It has been said by some that the lads in the Air Force are provided with better accommodation than is given to the members of the Australian Imperial Force. The matter was investigated by the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, which found that the quarters supplied for young men undergoing training for the Air Force, who are required to study very hard and endure a form of mental slavery, are anything but luxurious. It was realized by the committee that the exigencies of the service demanded better accommodation than that normally provided for members of the fighting forces. At the outbreak of the war complaints were rife about the lack of equipment. No such complaints are made today. This afternoon, while the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.Rankin) was speaking, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) interjected that the British Empire was sending war material to our enemies.
– Before the war.
– I remind the honorable gentleman that we were then obtaining from Germany many shipments of machine tools. In all of our war factories will be found a number of machine tools manufactured in Germany and brought out here before the commencement of hostilities. The trade was going on in both directions. We have heard of those who have refused to load iron ore on ships bound from Australia to Japan because Japan was regarded as a potential enemy which might convert the iron ore into munitions for subsequent use against us. I have heard members of this House say that machine tools made in Japan and purchased from Japan are now being used in Australian factories. Therefore, Japan has been trading with a potential enemy by supplying those tools to us.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), by way of interjection, remarked when the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was speaking, that the war effort put forward by the previous Government was better than none at all. I contend that if the present Government had been in power during the last two years the war effort would not have been nearly so great as it is today. It is interesting to note the change that has taken place among members of the Labour party now that that party has come to power. For instance, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) is as anxious as anybody to encourage recruiting, in order to maintain the forces overseas at full strength; but, before assuming office, I do not remember one word from him regarding the necessity for recruiting. I do not remember any member of the Opposition being anxious to get recruits for the Army. If they were, they did not make their views on that matter public.
Before assuming office, the Minister for the Army advocated the nationalization of private industries engaged in munitions production, and prominent headings appeared in the press about the need for taking over the control of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Honorable members on the Government side are always complaining in this House about the monopolistic control of certain Australian industries by that company, but I maintain that Australia is fortunate in having such a valuable enterprise as that conducted by the company. Had it not been for its enterprise in obtaining huge quantities of raw material from South Australia, and transferring it to Newcastle, the Avar effort of this country would have been comparatively small. It is fortunate for Australia that the company provides steel for purposes other than the war effort. In the last, war steel prices were 400 per cent, higher than those now ruling for steel used in the manufacture of tools of trade and farm implements.
It has been suggested that a municipal corporation should be established at Whyalla, in South Australia, and that the control now exercised there by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited should be taken from it. The present population of the town is about (5,750, an increase of 5,000 during tlie last three years. The number of houses built in the town by the company, on the lines adopted by Lever Brothers at Port Sunlight, is 85, and the number of employees connected with the company’s building scheme is 377. The South Australian Housing Trust has provided 100 houses for workmen at Whyalla, and intends to build another 100, making a total of 827 as compared with 295 three years ago. The company will erect houses at Whyalla during the next twelve months at the rate of one every five days. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has launched a building scheme under which the company provides for financing the building of homes and the supervision of their erection, the employees supplying the necessary land. In a large number of cases the land has been supplied by the company at actual cost. Full protection is given to employees should their employment terminate, or should the employee wish to leave Whyalla, the sum paid off the capital cost being refunded. The company provided £18,000 out of the £24,000 ‘ required for the establishment of a public hospital, which has been handed over to the care of the Government of South Australia. The company also pays for the construction of all roads, footpaths, kerbing, &c, and supplies trees and plants to the residents who desire to beautify their properties by that means. It may be confidently asserted that the company has been a great benefactor to the employees, and Australia should thank it for its contribution to the war effort.
There is so much money available in Australia to-day that, as pointed out b> the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), people spend hundreds of thousands of pounds at race meetings. Owing to the provision of $46,000,000,000 in the United States of America for war materials, there is so much money in circulation that the people do not know what to do with it. Australia, like the United States of America, is confronted with the difficulty of staving off inflation. In one of a series of seventeen articles published in Fortune, Mr. Mar.riner S. Eccles, dealing with price-fixing, says -
Instead of discouraging savings we need now to encourage them. Instead of encouraging consumer expenditures, we need to apply curbs on private spending whenever it threatens to encroach on defence needs or to distort prices. Instead of stimulating consumption by deficit financing, we need so far as we can to reduce the deficit and to approach a balanced budget . . Instead of a tax structure designed to encourage consumption, we need one that will recapture for the Government a large part of the outlays for defence.
Although economists are criticized for what they say about taxation, the expansion of credit, &c, it is realized in the United States of America, and I am sure that it is realized also by members of the Opposition in this chamber, that the danger of inflation could be staved off by increased taxation. Last Thursday evening the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), when speaking on the budget, made a rather peculiar statement with regard to allowable deductions from taxable income. In some cases great increases have been imposed in the taxes on higher incomes, but the honorable member for Reid said that the Government should allow State and Commonwealth income taxes as a deduction from taxable income in computing future taxes. The average State and Federal taxes on a taxable income of £40,000 would be £34,129. The income remaining would therefore be £5,871. Assuming the same income of £40,000 next year, the taxpayer would be allowed as a deduction the amount of £34,129 which he had paid in State and Federal taxes in the previous year, and would therefore have a taxable income of only £5,871. The tax on this amount would be £3,700. Therefore, the amount left with the taxpayer in the second year would be £36,200. A taxpayer with a taxable income of £10,000 would pay £7,711 in State and Federal income tax, and would have left for his own use £2,289. Assuming that the same taxpayer had an income of £10,000 next year, he would be allowed to deduct the £7,711 which he had paid in the previous year in State and Federal income tax, and would thus have a taxable income of £2,289, on which he would pay only £840; consequently, he would have left for his own use £9,160. I do not think that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) realized what would be the result when he said that the Government should allow the deduction of State and Federal income tax in assessing taxable income.
I am pleased to note that this Government intends to implement a portion of the policy of the Fadden Government, by introducing a mortgage bank bill. It is high time that such a bill was introduced, with a view to improving the position of primary producers, who are suffering because of existing conditions and have to pay heavy rates of interest on their indebtedness. It is a pity that the former Government did not endeavour so to relieve the situation. The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry which took evidence seven years ago, reported that the aggregate of the farmers’ debts was then £151,000,000. Since then, at an interest rate of 5-J per cent., an additional £66,000,000 has been paid to the banks, raising the total to £217,000,000. If Australia is too poor to pay more than 3i per cent, for the money that it borrows - and no higher rate should be paid for loans for war purposes - the people on the land, who also are poor, should not have to pay 5-J per cent, on overdrafts. Surely 4J per cent, would be quite enough for the banks to receive at present, when they are paying approximately only 2 per cent, for money deposited with them ! The rate of interest on overdrafts and mortgages should be pegged by either this or any other Government, just as the rates for war and other loans in Australia are pegged.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has said that the former Government prevented exports from Australia.. Are not honorable members opposite prepared to admit that the scarcity of shipping has been the principal reason for the reduction of exports from Australia during the last eight or nine months? One of the greatest achievements of the former Government was the cleaning up of a record wheat crop. Exports were made to Great Britain and other parts of the world in a period never equalled by the wheat merchants of this country. The exports of Australian pro duction of munitions of war to the Eastern Group Supply Council in the coming year will have a value of £53,000,000. I doubt whether we have the physical capacity to produce and export that quantity of materials.
In 1916, at approximately the middle of the war of 1914-18, the Commonwealth Government sold the Australian wool clip to the British Government for 15£d. per lb. Australia’s exchange rate was then a little better than that of Great Britain, and this country shared the resultant profits. That is to be done again under the present agreement. At present, 13-Jd. per lb. is the price to be paid in Australian currency for the purchase of our export wool. It is high time that the agreement was reviewed, and the Australian wool-grower was given an opportunity to obtain a higher price. The United States of America has taken a quantity of our wool, and we are entitled to a better price to offset the higher costs which have had to be met.
The previous Government fixed a price of 3s. lOd. a bushel for the Australian wheat crop. Since the stabilization of the wheat industry, the cost of the production of this commodity has risen by at least 3d. a bushel. The Government should look into the matter, in order to see whether something cannot be done to enable the farmer to obtain a price which would recoup him for the extra cost which has had to be incurred since the outbreak of war and the introduction of the stabilization scheme.
I warn the Government that it need not expect that the war will be won easily. We have gone a fair distance, but we have not yet won. In fact, so far we have been losing all along the line. It is up to the Government to see that a greater war effort is made. The Opposition has promised that no difficulties will be placed in the way of the Government in the prosecution of the war effort, but no attempt should be made by the Government to appease sectional interests at the expense of the war effort.
– Not even the woolgrowers ?
– The wheat-growers and wool-growers are producing something of value in the war effort, just as are the munitions workers. Finally, we should not waste time now in talking about a new order. We may get a new order out of the war, but, for the present, let us put our best foot forward to save the old order. If we do that we shall have done much.
Messages received from the Senate conveying resolutions concerning changes of personnel of Joint Committees as follows : -
Sale op Land - Members’ Transport - Returned Soldiers’ Repatriation Benefits - Government Motor Cars.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for Defence Co-ordination (Mr. Curtin) an anomaly in connexion with Statutory Rule No. 150 issued under the National Security Regulations 1941, relating to the sale of land. Paragraph a of section 28b should be deleted. Section 28b provides that a person shall not, without the consent in writing of the
Treasurer, enter into any contract for the sale of land where the total purchase money exceeds £10,000, and the purchase money is not payable within one year from the date of the contract. It is this provision in regard to the money being not payable within a year from the date of the contract that I desire to be deleted. Paragraph b then takes the part of paragraph a, and reads -
The contract gives to the vendor the right to repurchase the land.
It has been brought to my notice that a sale of land is proposed by City Freeholds Limited, in Sydney, at a price of approximately £600,000. The purchasers have made arrangements, I understand, to raise the money and pay it over immediately, so that the consent of the Treasurer will not in this case be necessary. Everybody knows the restrictions at present imposed upon the raising of capital? and it seems remarkable that it is possible to raise over £600,000 for the purchase of this estate. There seems to be something strange about this proposed sale. I read in an article which was published in a weekly journal issued to-day that a mystery company had been formed in connexion with it. Seven men have paid £1 each and formed themselves into a company for the purpose of purchasing this property, valued at over £500,000. The Government should take immediate action when an attempt is made in this way to circumvent the provisions of the regulations. If the. paragraph is deleted from section 28b, as I have suggested, the company would be required to obtain the consent of the Treasurer in writing before making the purchase. Under the regulation as it now stands, the deal could be completed without the approval of the Treasurer, though a small business firm, which was unable to raise the money immediately for the purchase of land, would have to obtain consent I understand this purchase will be finalized this week. Wealthy corporations such as banks can purchase expensive properties without hindrance, because they can raise the necessary capital.
– I desire to refer to a matter of urgency, namely, the transport of members of
Parliament between Canberra and Albury. Since I have been a member of this House, it has been the invariable custom for the officers of the Railways Department to book private members on the car nearest to the engine, after the cars further from the engine are monopolized by Ministers and their staffs. The effect of that procedure is that when the train from Canberra arrives at Goulburn, the car nearest to the engine is coupled with the first train from Goulburn, and private members arrive in Albury half an hour or an hour earlier than Ministers and their retinues. I ask for equality of treatment in this matter. This private secretaries’ racket has proceeded long enough, and I object to being treated differently from Ministers or ministerial staffs. I understand that at least one coach of the Melbourne train on next Friday night has already been booked for Ministers and ministerial staffs, and that private members can secure their bookings only on Friday evening. The practice is wrong and I strenuously object to it. I object also to the action of some members of this Government who have copied the example set by previous Ministers in reserving compartments for their sole use, with the result that private members have to take bookings in compartments nearest to the engine. Already two Ministers have booked compartments for their sole use on Friday night and no doubt there will be others following their bad example before the end of the week. I object also to the use of the vice-regal car on this line for those attending Premiers conferences, Government House parties and for other purposes when we are urging the people to make more sacrifices for the war effort. We ask the people to give until it hurts, yet we present the spectacle of extra coaches being attached to trains because Ministers will not make any sacrifices. We state that we desire to build up reserves of coal in all capital cities, but coal is being squandered in the misuse of which I complain. Because of what they see when people come to Canberra, they can be forgiven for gaining the impression that Australia is not at war.
There was misuse of official motor cars in the past, but the position has considerably improved.
– Has it improved?
– I understand that it has improved, but there is still considerable ground for complaint. At any rate when the train arrived at the Canberra station this morning, no fewer than nine government cars met some of the passengers. They did not pick up members of Parliament, for whose, use a bus is reserved. Instead of requiring nine cars to meet three Ministers, and their retinues, and public servants arriving for the service of other Ministers, and of Parliament, one bus should be reserved as is customary for members of Parliament, whether or not they are Ministers, and another should be set aside for ministerial staffs. There is no reason why so much petrol should be wasted, simply because the practice was followed in pre-war days. We have to set a good example in these matters, and I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will bring my remarks to the notice of Cabinet, in order that Ministers may mend their ways.
In conclusion, I object to the differential treatment of private members. I object also to ministerial staffs by practice, or by some arrangement, having some prescriptive right to book the best compartments in the trains from Canberra, leaving what remains to private members. I ask the Treasurer to see that the practice is altered, so as to assure equality of treatment in the matter of the reservation of berths.
.I desire to refer to the attitude of the Repatriation Department towards returned soldiers and their dependants regarding claims for pensions. The case that I propose to cite is typical of a number which have come to my notice since I became a member of this chamber. Lance Corporal Frederick W. Hughes, a member of the55th Battalion in the last war, was wounded on active service, and as the result, one of his legs was amputated. From that time until his death a year ago, he walked with the assistance of crutches. His health was never again robust. His disability was recognized by the Repatriation Department, and during his lifetime he and his dependants were awarded a pension of ?3 4s. 6d. a week. In June, 1940, he suffered a stroke, and was taken So-the Randwick Military Hospital. When the officials asked what side of his body had been affected by the stroke, they were informed that it was the same side as that on. which the leg had been amputated. A certificate to this effect was given by Dr. Green of Punchbowl, who had attended Hughes for seventeen years. The hospital officials were satisfied Vi #h the certificate, and sent no departmental medical officer to verify the details. Hughes was then admitted to the institution, but failed to regain consciousness and died a fortnight later. His death was certified as having been due to cerebral haemorrhage. The pension payable to him and his wife and two children ceased immediately, although it was due to be paid on the day following his death. Incidentally, his wife had a little shop which returned to her a small income. This was closed at the time of Hughes’s death and burial.
The widow experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining any payments for some days from the department, but subsequently, the pension was reduced to ?1 4s. 6d. a week for herself and two children. Then she applied to the Repatriation Commission for a war widow’s pension but it was not until the 2Sth October, 1940- nine months later - that the matter was dealt with by the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal. Her claim was disallowed on the ground that Ohe death was not due to war disabilities. In reaching its decision the commission relied upon an opinion of a Melbourne specialist, who had never attended Hughes, and evidently disregarded a considerable volume of evidence by doctors and laymen of repute who had known him during his lifetime. Some time later when she approached me to intercede with the Repatriation Department on her behalf, the matter was revived and she obtained further evidence. On the 8th October last, the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in Sydney informed her that her claim had been disallowed. The commissioners considered the matter under section 44k of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, but adhered to the previous decision that the ex-soldier’s death was not attributable to war service. The commission also decided that the further evidence submitted in the case was not material to, and had no substantial bearing upon, Mrs. Hughes’s claim. The widow was advised of the decision, and was informed of the procedure to be followed should she desire the additional evidence to be placed before the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. On the 29th October, she wrote to me as follows : -
Things are becoming increasingly difficult for mc. I have been very sick and my doctor tells me I cannot much longer escape a major operation which will mean a long spell in hospital, and of course the way I am placed it will be impossible for me to continue my business which is just giving us a bare living mm and would not stand the expense of paid help. So if anything could be done to speed things in regard to my case, I would lie very grateful.
In order to give to honorable members some idea of the manner in which administration procedure operates, I shall conclude by reading extracts from evidence that was submitted to the Repatriation Commission and the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal. Mr. H. W. Bell, commercial traveller, of 108 Livingstone-road, Marrickville, wrote -
To whom it may concern :
Having been in constant touch with the late F. W. Hughes for the last niue years, I have frequently heard him complain of severe headaches, and have advised him to seek expert medical advice and his reply to me was, “What’s the use?”. He attributed it to the loss of his leg and shock caused by war wounds.
Dr. J. C. Green, of Punchbowl, stated ;
I knew the deceased for seventeen years, and I can say confidently that he was not addicted to alcohol. His death was due to a cerebral haemorrhage, the cause of which was arteriosclerosis. His age was only fortyfour at death, and this is unusually young for cerebral haemorrhage. In my opinion the loss of his leg at the war was the probable cause of the arterio-sclerosis, which led to his death.
I knew the late Mr. Fred Hughes for a period of approximately eleven years, and came in contact with him almost daily. During the past five years, I noticed a distinct deterioration in his health. He frequently complained that his side was giving him considerable trouble, and that he was subject to continual headaches. On numerous occasions, especially in the years 1038-39, when I saw signs of a gradual break up, I suggested that he should sec a specialist, but each time he informed me that his condition was solely duc to war injuries and that nothing could be done for him. Mr. Hughes appeared to be fully cognizant of his steady decline in health and his condition worried him tremendously.
Mr. C. J. Swadling, J.P., station master, No. 1 platform, Sydney, stated -
To whom it may concern.
This serves to certify that I have known the late F. W. Hughes for a period extending over the past ten years, and I have been closely associated with him for the past six years.
During that period I have noticed his gradually failing in health. At times he would complain of frequent headaches, and pains in his injured side. His appearance suggested a very tired man, and of far greater age than his actual years.
When I advised him at various times to consult a doctor, his reply was “that it was useless, as he knew that the trouble was caused by his war injuries “, and he “ could not afford to spend the money in this direction, which he otherwise required “. In conclusion, I would like to state that the late Mr. Hughes led a very temperate life.
Dr. Edgar Stephen, 135 Macquariestreet, wrote ;
I regret that I cannot recall to memory anything about your late husband. The medi oiines I prescribed for him were strong nerve tonics. I am pretty sure the Repatriation Department will assist you in what education and training for a vocation your children may need, especially for children of a man who lost a limb. I am sorry I am unable to give any information and return the prescription book. I feel confident that yon can .get help in the way I have mentioned for the children’s career.
Further evidence was obtained from Dr. R. M. Thomson, of 362 Chapel-road, Bankstown, who is the district repatriation doctor -
I hereby certify that Mrs. Hughes has consulted me re her late husband, F. W. Hughes.
In my opinion the loss of one leg with the resulting use of crutches for 23 years, would have caused undue strain on his system and Would be a possible cause of arterio-sclerosis.
Finally, I quote a letter by Dr. A. J. Hope, of Arthur-street, Punchbowl, which reads -
Mrs. Hughes, the wife of the late F. W. Hughes, has consulted mc re the latter’s death.
It seems to me quite feasible that the loss of a leg at the last war could have been the cause of his cerebral haemorrhage owing to the great effort required in using crutches over a lengthy period.
have seen a certificate issued by Dr. Green who attended him in which ho expresses this view strongly.
The evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the claim of the widow of this deceased soldier. I have suggested to the Minister by means of a question on notice that the system in operation in Canada, where the onus is placed on the Repatriation Commissioner, should be in operation here also. The Minister assured me that that was the position in Australia; but if that be the legal position, I cannot understand why a different policy is in operation. A number of medical officers and independent citizens have given their testimony in this man’s favour; but their evidence has been rejected in favour of that of a specialist in Melbourne. This attitude on the part of the Repatriation Commissioner is similar to that adopted by many life assurance companies which bring forward expert medical evidence in order to deprive assured persons of their rights, f hope that the new Minister, who I know is sympathetic to the claims of returned soldiers and their dependants, will see that justice is done in this case. Probably some amendment of the Act will be necessary in order to ensure that justice will be done to returned soldiers. I hope, too, that the Minister will consider the hearing of the cases in open court rather than in camera, and that the Repatriation Commission, in fairness to the soldiers of the last war as well as to those who participate in the present war, will give attention to these matters.
– I shall have inquiries made into the case mentioned by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) and shall let him have a reply as soon as possible.
– in reply - The matter raised by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) will be fully investigated and I shall furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as possible.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to the discrimination displayed in the transport of members of this House. I shall have his remarks brought to the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), so that the matter may be investigated and a reply furnished to the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 259.
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 29th October, 1941) prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Calcium carbide; Sodium carbonate (soda crystals).
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 245, 246.
High Commissioner Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 258.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - Footscray, Victoria (2).
National Security Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 247, 248, 249, 250, 252, 253, 254, 255.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1941 -
No. 5 - Ordinances Interpretation.
No. 17 - Appropriation (No. 3) 1940-1941.
No. 18 - Mortgagors’ Relief (No. 2).
No. 19 - Succession Duties.
No. 20 - Dog.
No. 21 - Police Offences (No. 2).
No. 23- Customs Tariff (No. 2).
No. 24 - Mines and Works Regulation.
Petroleum Oil Search Act - Statement of Expenditure from 28th May, 1936, to 30th June, 1941.
Scat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1941 - No. 16 - Motor Traffic.
House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The United Kingdom Ministry of War Transport handles all United Kingdom shipping which trades to Australia and also controls much allied and neutral shipping touching at Australian ports. The Ministry of War Transport also co-operates closely with the United States of America Maritime Commission which controls American ships trading to Australia, and also exercises a close supervision over all shipping touching at American ports. The Commonwealth Government has a number of ships on time charter and these ships engage in essential war trades on various routes. It is understood that the previous Government did not receive any specific recommendation or report from the Commerce Department regarding the establishment of a Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers, and that no conclusion had been reached regarding the method of manning and running any ships now being constructed under the supervision of the Shipbuilding Commission. The Government will consider this matter at an early date.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This matter has received the consideration of the Government. It is proposed at an early date to submit to Parliament legislation to provide for the reappointment (within a limited time after an election) and the preservation of accumulated rights of Commonwealth officers who resign to contest Commonwealth and State elections and are not elected.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
l asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the fact that press messages can now be cabled at one penny per word, will he ascertain if any further benefits in the matter of reduced cable charges can be afforded to the general public who desire to send personal messages to relatives in other parts of the British Empire?
– The Postmaster-General lias supplied the following answer : -
The recent reduction in the tariff for Empire “ ordinary “ press telegrams was introduced to stimulate a greater flow of news throughout the Empire as a special wartime measure, subject to the condition that the charge would revert to 2Jd. a word after the war. The reduction was preceded by the Empire flat rate scheme inaugurated in April, 193S, following the Imperial Rates Conference, which was held during the previous year. This plan extended to telegraph users throughout the Empire a uniform tariff of ls. 3d. a word for full-rate cable and beam messages, with corresponding reductions in the other categories of traffic. Formerly the charge for a full-rate cable between Australia and the United Kingdom, for example, was 2s. a word or ls. 8d. a word via beam. Between Australia and other Empire points, the rates ranged up to a maximum of 5s. a word.
Under the flat rate scheme the public throughout the Empire benefited to the extent of £500,000 per annum, on the basis of then existing traffic. Part of this amount was recouped to Cable and Wireless Limited by contributions made by certain Empire administrations, the amount contributed by the Commonwealth in the form of reduced terminals being £29,000 per annum. The net cost of the scheme to Cable and Wireless Limited and its communication associates was over £400,000 per annum.
Other tariff benefits were introduced at a later stage, including in May, 1939, the social letter telegram at 5d. a word (with a minimum of twelve words), and the EFM service to and from members of the lighting forces at 2s. 6d. per message, applied in the case of Army and Air personnel in February, 1940, and in respect pf Navy personnel early in 1941. The latter is a war-time concession only.
Empire rates for all classifications of overseas traffic are now amongst the lowest throughout the world, and in view of the concessions already granted and the fact that the reduction in the press rate is a war-time measure only, it is not thought the present is an opportune time to approach Cable and Wireless Limited and its associates seeking further tariff benefits. It might be mentioned also that the Empire Rate Scheme cannot be varied without the full consent of all Empire Governments through their representatives on the Imperial Communications Advisory Committee.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Lakes Entrance Oil Fields: Visit of Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank.
y. - On the 6th November, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked me a question, without notice, concerning the visit of Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank to Australia.
As a result of extensive investigations carried out by government geologists and private enterprise over a period of years, the conclusion was reached that the Lakes Entrance oil-field might respond to development by a recently-developed method of horizontal drilling. Accordingly, the Australian Minister inWashington was asked to secure the services, in conjunction with the United States Bureau of Mines, of two outstanding oil technologists skilled in methods of horizontal drilling and other modern methods. Messrs. Leo Ranney and Charles Fairbank were selected for this purpose, but they made it clear at the outset that their other commitments in America imposed strict limits upon the period which they could devote to investigation in Australia. These men are oilproduction engineers whose work follows that of the geologist and geophysicist. They do not search, for oil. What is known as the “ Ranney “ method of horizontal drilling is new. The first horizontal well was drilled in Ohio in 1939. The method can be applied to water as well as to oil. After the departure of Messrs. Ranney and Fairbank from Australia, a question was raised regarding their qualifications as oil technologists. The Australian Minister in Washington was, therefore, asked to again consult the UnitedStates Bureau of Mines in this regard. In the course of his reply, the Australian Minister gave details of work carried out by these gentlemen which confirmed their bona fides, and concluded by saying -
While the success of the “Ranney” method as applied to any particular field cannot be guaranteed, the method is not regarded as merely theoretical. The question is rather whether the need for oil in Australia is sufficiently great to warrant the expenditure of a reasonable sum on the development of the field (if the Commonwealth advisers are satisfied that oil is to he found there and wellestablished methods have failed) by new methods which the Commonwealth Government might regard as giving a reasonable chance of success. No one is likely to be in a better position to make a. successful attempt to apply this method than Ranney.
Enemy Broadcasts: Misrepresentation of Australian Events.
n. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Is the Minister for Information aware that the enemy broadcasts have been misrepresenting events in Australia and using them as dangerous propaganda in South Africa and has the Ministry of Information taken any special steps to counteract that propaganda in South Africa?
The Minister for Information has supplied the following answer: -
The Department of Information has been regularly intercepting the broadcasts from Berlin direct to South Africa, and has recorded the anti-Australian propaganda contained in them. While the Department of Information was broadcasting on short wave to South Africa, it used to counter these charges in its daily broadcasts. However, technical difficulties led to the stopping of the South African service some months ago. To-day, the 12th November, the department’s weekly analysis of incoming short-wave broadcasts contains a special study of Australia as presented in broadcasts from Berlin and Rome. This analysis shows that a high proportion of the misleading statements about Australia broadcast by Berlin are directed towards South Africa. Reports containing an analysis of this material, together with effective replies, are being Bent to South Africa for use in the press there.
– On the 7th November, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked’ me the following question, without notice > -
I desire to know whether the Minister for Information has seen this morning’s press, in which a report is made of the debate in this chamber yesterday on the budget; has he seen the prominence given to the Right Honorable the member for Kooyong and the member for Robertson - they are very effectively reported - and the very meagre report which is given of the Prime Minister’s most effective reply thereto; will the Minister representing the Minister for Information bring the matter under his notice to see whether or not some basis of equity can bo obtained in the reports of the proceedings in this Bouse through the newspapers ?
The Minister for Information has supplied the following answer : -
It will bc realized that the Department of Information exercises no control over newspaper reports of proceedings in the House unless such reports fail to fulfil requirements of national security, and therefore become subject to censorship regulations; in all other respects, the press of - Australia is free to report such speeches if desired, and the length of such reports is entirely a matter for the newspapers concerned.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 November 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19411112_reps_16_169/>.