16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present a petition from certain electors of the Division of Watson, praying that enemy aliens, whether naturalized or not, be interned immediately.
Petition received and read.
Visit to the United States of America - Reallotmentof Ministerial Duties.
– by leave - I desire to announce to the House that the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), by direction of the Government, is at present in the United States of America, where he is carrying out a special mission on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. This mission involves, as an essential part, that Dr. Evatt shall proceed to the United Kingdom as early as possible.
During Dr. Evatt’s absence from Australia, the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) will act as Attorney-General, and I shall act as Minister for External Affairs.
The Honorable J. B. Chifley has been sworn in as a member of the Australian Advisory War Council.
– by leave - The course of events affecting the destiny of this country has continued rapidly during March. In this increasing speed and pressure lies the justification for frequent meetings of Parliament. The interval which has elapsed since the House adjourned, and which it is proposed to observe between meetings in the future, has proved a useful period over which to attempt some regular assessment of swiftly changing circumstances.
In referring to events since the last sitting of the House, I give first and outstanding place to the achievement of unified Allied command in the Pacific war area. The United Kingdom and the United States of America have given ready co-operation with the Commonwealth Government in this matter, and have shown a cordial understanding of our wishes. This Government and Parliament, and the whole country, greet with pride and intensesatisf action the appointment to the supreme command of General Douglas MacArthur.
Since Japan entered the war, the Commonwealth Government has concentrated its efforts in two main directions: first, to secure the rapid disposition of men and supplies in maximum possible strength to the points where they could be used most effectively ; and, secondly, to secure speed and efficiency in the higher Allied war direction.
Under the second head, I am satisfied that the appointment of General MacArthur represents a very considerable advance. Unified command in the person of one who enjoys authority of the highest order, both here and in America, is a vital condition for the defence of Australia and for the gradual organization of offensive action against Japan, which we are now undertaking with the powerful aid of the armed forces of the United States of America. 1 wish to record here that General MacArthur may count to the limit on the co-operation of the Australian Government and people, and all Australian war-time authorities, in the great task assigned to him by President Roosevelt. Close discussions have been held with General MacArthur since his arrival, with a view to defining without delay the new arrangements in the Commonwealth which his appointment entails. Meanwhile, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is actively pursuing in Washington the further plans which the Government has in mind for the better adaptation of the machinery of Allied war direction to the present needs of the Australian-New Zealand-Pacific area.
There can be no dispute that the developments of the past month have far outrun the arrangements concluded last February for the division of control in the Pacific area between London and Washington. The Commonwealth Government has now become a much more active partner in the operational direction of the war. Previously, this was a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the Commanders-in-Chief in the Middle East and Ear East, acting under the direction of the United Kingdom Government.
During the visit of Mr. Menzies to London, he participated in the decisions of the War Cabinet relating to the Middle
East campaign. He was later followed by Sir Earle Page, who was recently admitted to the United Kingdom War Cabinet as the accredited representative of the Australian Government, and is also its representative on the Pacific War Council, London. When a council is established in Washington an accredited representative of the Commonwealth Government will be there also. Major questions of policy will necessarily be referred back to the War Cabinet by the Australian representatives in London and Washington.
The Australian service advisory machinery will be the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Australia as the general advisers to War Cabinet, except where, ou the highest strategical questions, the supreme or the local commanders may be consulted. There will also be the service representatives in London and Washington, who will assist the Government representatives on the respective councils and will maintain liaison, with the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff in London and the American Chiefs of Staff in Washington.
The conduct of operations in the Anzac area will be vested in the supreme commander. There will be local commanders of the Australian forces for the Navy and the Army. For the Air Force. General Brett has that office. Australia has, and has had from the beginning, two major requirements to press in this connexion; first, that whatever machinery is set up should he uncomplicated, and such as would help and not hinder quick decision; and, secondly, that, at the final stage of decision, the Commonwealth Government should have a direct voice on equal terms with the other principals concerned. The weight and authority which that voice might command are for ourselves to ensure. They will bear a direct relation to the resolution we- bring to our own defence, and to the exertions we apply to the common cause of the united nations. I affirm that, in neither respect, will the force of Australia’s representation in war councils abroad ever find cause for impairment or hesitation.
Simultaneously with the news of General MacArthur’s arrival in Australia, announcement was made of the presence in this country of substantial numbers of American armed forces, together with general war equipment. That announcement was received in a way which laid before ibo whole world the cordiality of our association in arms with the United States of America. We have all known that when the danger of violent assault on Australian independence, democratic institutions, and ways of life moved nearer this continent no spur would be needed to inspire Australian patriotism to the extremity of effort and resistance, ff we had had to stand alone, Australians would have fought in the only way consonant with the traditions of the British race, and our own spirit. That, in passing, can serve as our answer to General Tojo’s suggestion to Australia to consider ii separate peace. Yet, if there is one tiling more that could encourage in us a greater resilience and a stronger determination, it is the knowledge that powerful support is already with us.
Australia is of cardinal importance in r he Allied conduct of the war. This Government has never wavered in the view that, on the grounds of highest strategy, -is well as by reason of all that Australia and New Zealand represent on the side of human values for which the Allies are fighting, the Anzac area is a vital area to the world war. The calamitous trend of events since the invasion of Malaya has reinforced that view, which is now generally accepted, and may well indicate a turning point in the war. I should make this proviso - a turning point, provided it is followed by swift and resolute action. The support that has now reached us imposes a high obligation on Australians to spare nothing in their own efforts. As we envisage our role in the major strategy of the war, our necessities in man-power and equipment become more and not less exacting. There have been forecasts of Australia’s function as an offensive base in the ultimate process of driving back Japan from the southwestern Pacific. That is, in fact, our goal, but let us not exaggerate the speed with which we can reach it. We must first ensure that Australia shall be held, mid to that end accumulate all the resources open to us.
Both here and in Washington the many questions arising out of the direct provision of war materials by the United States of America, as well as the supply needs of the American forces in Australia, are now being closely examined with a view to setting up the simplest possible machinery and reducing delays and unnecessary procedure. This work also is a part of the activity of the Minister for External Affairs on hie mission. The despatch of Dr. Evatt abroad is a step which was taken after the House last met. The Government regards it as a most important step. For the special and highly urgent questionwhich the present phase of the war baf forced on Australia, no representation abroad’ and at a great distance can entirely take the place of direct contact with the authorities concerned of h Minister of State fully conversant with the mind of the Government at home, and with the priority of needs as seen from the Australian angle. Dr. Evatt’? instructions are in wide terms. He is to deal with all matters in which the Commonwealth and the countries he visit.have mutual interest, and he is to collaborate with the appropriate authorities so as to secure the fullest possibleachievement advantageous to the war effort of Australia, and of the Allied cause.
The range of questions on which vc are in constant touch with other governments and administrations has been enlarged during this month by the most valuable discussions held shortly after thiHouse adjourned with Mr. Coates and Mr. Sullivan, members of the New Zealand War Council. These conversations gave us a thorough insight into the preoccupations which the New Zealand Government, in common with ourselves, holds in face of the imminent Japanese threat to the Anzac area. A full and satisfactory agreement of views is now firmly established between the two Governments as to the place and role of each dominion in the defensive and offensive strategy of the Anzac area. It is intended that these consultations shall be continued.
After the fall of Java early in March, some important questions also arose affecting Australian-Dutch relations.
We were happy to welcome here for the relevant discussions, Dr. van Mook, Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies, and other members of that administration. The Commonwealth Government will do all it can to help the Netherlands Administration in re-organizing such forces as have reached Australia, or may do so in the future, from Java. That will be at least some practical expression of our admiration for the brave fight of the Dutch against overwhelming odds in the Fast Indies archipelago. On the 18th March, the Eight Honorable S. M. Bruce, as first Australian Minister to the Court of the Netherlands, presented his letters of credence to Queen Wilhelmina in London. I hope that we : na 11 soon learn of the arrival here of the first Netherlands Minister to Australia.
In Europe and the countries of the Middle East this month sees the beginning of spring and the season of major campaigning. There are signs that the Axis powers mean, if they can, to make the operations of 1942 decisive. The brilliant winter offensive conducted by the Russians must have delayed German plans, but Hitler’s need for success, and success at no long date, is so imperative that it can be no more than delay. No one should imagine that Germany is incapable of a still more gigantic effort than that of last year, which was brought to a halt in the mud and frost of Russia, and by the valiant resistance of the Red Army. Recent reports from Europe have left little doubt of the immense production effort which Germany has undertaken during the European winter. The acute labor shortage in Germany is itself a reflection of this. In addition, Germany has drawn freely on the industrial resources of the occupied countries to supplement the output of her own factories. In total, it is probable that the German and Italian output of war material is still substantially greater than that which the Allies can make available to the European and Mediterranean theatres of war.
It is a reasonable certainty that, at a time and at points which can only be a matter of speculation, heavy and wellprepared blows will be delivered at the Allied positions. They may include a final attempt to force Russia out of the war, a drive to the oil-fields of the Middle East, or even an attempt to link the European Axis with. Japan. If any of these attempts were to succeed, it would be delusion to suppose that Australia’s position or continued capacity for selfdefence, let alone ability to build up an offensive against Japan, would not be gravely jeopardized.
In estimating the outlook in the European and Middle Eastern theatre.of war, it is necessary to take into account political as well as military factors. The military conflict ebbs anil flows; the diplomatic struggle is ceaseless. Between the conception and the execution of some of the Axis plan:stands a political buffer, constituted by the varying degrees of independence of some half-dozen countries. Of these, Vichy France is the chief. For nearly two years, France has stood in the uneasiest of all relationships with Germany - that of the conquered state which has not yet gone the whole way in accepting the orders of the victor. It is well known that France is industrially subservient to Germany. The great Renault works near Paris were put out of action for a long time to come by the Royal Air Force attack of two weeks ago; but there arc many more factories in occupied France devoted to swelling the armaments of the Reich. In unoccupied France also, the economic system has been made to serve German ends. At the same time, the Vichy Government has continued to withstand German pressure for surrender of control over the remainder of thi’ French Fleet and for permission for use by the Axis of French bases in the Mediterranean and North Africa. It is clear that any deviation from this attitude would be an important factor in the formulation of new German strategic plans. Similarly, there is no positive sign yet that Franco’s Government in Spain is ready to precipitate the country into war at the behest of Germany.
A drive for the Caucasian oil-wells would be greatly facilitated if German forces could take a southern route through Turkey, and the Ankara Government has particular reason at the present time to be concerned at the possibility of German demands to attain this objective. Fortunately, Turkish relations with Russia are on a more satisfactory basis, and Soviet successes, which might in some circumstances have caused concern, are now welcome to Turkey. Turkey’s position has also been improved by the increased strength of the Allied line te the east and south. Any hopes that Germany once had of securing inside support in the countries of the Near East have now receded. In Iran the new government, despite Axis propaganda to the contrary, is showing a marked degree of co-operation with Great Britain and Russia, within the framework of the Anglo-Sovient-Iranian Treaty. In Iraq, General Nuri is showing a willingness to go beyond the strict letter of treaty obligations in assisting the allied cause. The appointment of a British Minister to Syria and Lebanon is indicative of the growing stability of the administration, while in Egypt the Wafd Government of Nahas Pasha is co-operating willingly with the United Kingdom, and it appears likely that the forthcoming elections will be held without any serious disturbance. In all these regions, the main responsibility for vigilance and precaution lies with Great Britain. This is one heavy task among many with which the British people are charged and which they are fulfilling with energy and perseverance.
From the potential and actual theatres of war in Europe and the Middle East I turn briefly to Asia. Australia has welcomed the opportunities which .the last few months have brought for increased contacts with ‘China and increased understanding of China’s view. Useful exchanges of ideas have taken place between the Chinese and Commonwealth Governments through the medium of our respective diplomatic representatives. The Commonwealth Government is well acquainted with, and has supported, Chinese views on certain proposals for the more effective conduct of the Pacific war. In return, I believe that it is not unlikely that Australia’s example in these last few weeks has done something to remove the undoubted disappointment which ensued in Chinese opinion after the loss of Malaya and other allied reverses at the hands of Japan. Australia has noted, with warm satisfaction, the presence in Burma of Chinese forces and the valuable contribution they have already made there. The threat to Burma has resulted in a clearer realization of the community of interest between China and India, as was shown in a striking way by the recent visit of Chiang Kai-shek to India. It is our profound hope that the full resources of India, material and moral, may be mobilized in the common struggle, through a settlement of the constitutional problem, enabling the Indian people to fulfil within the British Commonwealth their national aspirations. Australia must be held, and India must be held, because they constitute the two bases on which the whole allied position in Asia and the Pacific depends, and from which the offensive will flow to ultimate victory.
On the 19th February, the first attack on the Australian mainland was made when Japanese aircraft raided Darwin. To date there have been six raids on Darwin, whilst Wyndham, Broome, Derby and Katherine also have been attacked* The enemy’s attention to this country followed quickly upon the dissipation of the ABDA command, the occupation of Rabaul, Salamaua and Lae and the attacks on Port Moresby. Nevertheless, the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States of America Air Force have struck back. Day after day we have maintained an air offensive against the enemy. One outstanding operation was against the enemy-occupied aerodrome at Lae, when no fewer than 25 Japanese aircraft were destroyed and damaged. Blows have been struck at Koepang and Dilli. Further, allied aircraft carried the offensive against Japanese naval and merchant shipping, as the result of which 23 vessels were either sunk or left burning.
We are met in thi3 Parliament to give expression to the will of the Australian people that all measures which can be taken by us to hasten the time of victory shall be taken, without regard for sectional or selfish interests. The Government that is called on to execute this policy is entitled, indeed bound, to claim the people’s full confidence and support. I believe that there is in Australia to-day an intense love of country, greater in its expression than has yet been called forth at. any previous period in Australia’s history. At an hour of trial no different from that which has afflicted many other countries in the last two and a half years, the Australian people are determined, and must also see to it that they are united. With those qualities in us, the enemy will find that he has kindled in this country a fire and a resolve which are not in his power to quench and which will make a massive contribution to his downfall. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Progress of war - Ministerial Statement, 25th March,1942. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden ) adjourned.
– I present the report of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting.
Ordered to be printed.
– As Chairman, I present the second and third interim reports of the Joint Committee on Social Security.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the
Prime Minister to inform the House whether the Government has taken action to deal with the very unsatisfactory labour position at Port Melbourne and on some other wharves? Is it true that vessels tradingbetween Tasmania and the mainland sometimes leave partly loaded, and sometimes carry cargo back to the ports from which it was originally shipped, because wharf labourers will not accept work in daytime? Does the Prime Minister know that volunteer labour, which has been suitably protected, has been used in recent weeks to discharge cargo at more than one port ?
– There is a considerable amount of congestion at Port Melbourne which is due, in part, to some of the developments that I described earlier to the House; but the most comprehensive and practical steps have been taken under the best-informed direction in order to minimize the difficulties. I desire to pay a tribute to the wharf labourers, stevedoring companies and, in fact, to all those, be they masters or men, who are associated with the loading and unloading of ships. The problems arise from day to day and the Government has instructed the Maritime Council to examine the position daily. To the activities of Sir Owen Dixon, Sir Thomas Gordon and Mr. Healy, I have already paid tribute. Regarding the special instances to which the honorable member for Darwin referred and which, I understand, relate to the Tasmanian trade, I shall have the matter examined and convey an answer to him.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service completed his investigation, promised some three weeks ago, into the complaint that long and serious delays were being caused to shipping in the Port of Melbourne owing to the shortage of waterside labour and other causes, and the consequent inability expeditiously to handle cargo? If so, with what results?
– The Prime Minister earlier, in reply to a question, made a statement which indicates exactly the action that the Government proposes to take. The negotiations between the various parties have been completed, and it is proposed to set up a new form of organization for the control and regulation of labour. It is hoped that many of the existing troubles will disappear as the result of its operations.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that certain shipping companies are reported to have held up their ships by refraining from employing labour after 10 o’clock at night, and that this has delayed the turnround of ships plying between Tasmania and the mainland ? If he is not aware of this, will he have an investigation made with a view to dealing with the companies, or to taking over the ships and operating them in some other way?
– I was not aware that the position was as stated by the honorable member. If he will supply me with all information in his possession, Ishall
Have the matter thoroughly investigated.
If the facts are as stated, prompt action will be taken.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that military commentators, who broadcast from A and B class radio stations, are disseminating news of strategic value to the enemy? Does the Minister propose to suppress these stupid and dangerous practices?
– All news which is broadcast from A and B class radio stations is subject to the censorship. If the honorable member will bring to my notice any strategical information which, he says, is being given over the air, I shall refer it to the censor.
– I shall supply some examples to the Minister.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the enemy has received valuable information and assistance from the Lutheran mission in New Guinea? If so, does he propose to take action against similar missions in Australia?
– Advice was received to the effect that Lutheran missionaries were assisting the enemy, but so far confirmation of this has not come to hand.
Appointment to Allied Works Council
– Was the Minister for the Army correctly reported in the press as having said that only in the most exceptional cases would men be released from military training? Is it a fact that Lieutenant Prank Packer, a newspaper associate of Mr. E. G. Theodore, has been released from military service in order to act as offside r to Mr. Theodore on the Allied Works Council? In view of the long period for which Lieutenant Packer was in camp and the energy expended, now wasted, on training him, what special circumstances warranted his release? What special training has he had in handling the man-power problem to fit him for his new joh?
– Lieutenant Packer was made available to the Director-General of the Allied Works Council to assisi him in the very onerous work which he has undertaken free of cost to the Commonwealth Government. The request for his release, made by the DirectorGeneral, was acceded to by the Government in the special circumstances.
– Will the Prime Minister tell me whether steps have been taken to inform the British Government that the British Broadcasting Corporation recently delivered broadcasts which gave’ information about the disposition of Australian troops on the high seas and which could be only of value to the enemy and of danger to Australians abroad ?
– I have had direct communication with the British Prime Minister in respect of the way in which news and views are being broadcast and cabled as between Australia and the other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the article published yesterday in the Sydney Daily Telegraph under the heading, “A plan to save precious shipping”, written by an American newspaper man, in which it was proposed that as an alternative to, or in addition to, importing completed aircraft from the United States of America, we should import the plant to manufacture aircraft here in order to avoid the risk of losing manufactured planes coming by convoy ‘( Will the Prime Minister consider the suggestion, and, if he considers it to be sound, take up the matter with the authorities in the United States of America while the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is in that country?
– I have not seen the article, but any suggestions as to the manner in which material aid can be given to Australia by the United States of America are constantly under consideration and review by the representatives of both countries, and I cannot imagine that, if there were any merit in a proposition of that kind, it would not already have been investigated.
– -Has the Prime Minister considered the advisability, following the example of Great Britain and the United States of America, of appointing some competent person or persons with a knowledge of labour and technical problems to stimulate and co-ordinate war production generally?
– The Government will give consideration to that matter.
– In view of the fact that
State Parliaments are regarded largely as excrescences causing unnecessary duplication and, to some degree, hindrance of the war effort, will the Prime Minister take whatever action is necessary toabolish those parliaments, or, at least, cause them to cease to function forthe duration of t he war?
– I shall convey the honorable gentleman’s suggestion to the Premiers of the States.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that the Navy has been commandeering small craft, including fishingboats, and has thereby taken away the livelihood of some men in various parts of New South Wales and Australia generally? Is he aware that many people with week-end cottages on the coast are prepared themselves to take their boats to their homes 30 miles inland in order to look after them? Will the Minister say whether it is the intention of the Navy to destroy these boats in an emergency? Would the boats not be better looked after if the owners were allowed to take care of them at their own homes?
– The Navy has in some instances requisitioned small boats and has also ordered the transfer of small craft to places regarded as being safer than their present moorings. Security reasons make it essential that this policy be applied. If circumstances demand it, anything of use to the enemy will be destroyed, but no useful craft or facility will be destroyed, unless it happens to he a source of danger to this country and of aid to the enemy.
– But the boats are being destroyed in the water.
– I have indicated tothe Department of the Navy that reasonable facilities must be given to owners to renovate and maintain craft. I shall take into consideration the honorable member’s request and ascertain whether there can be any relaxation of the provisions made by the Navy for security reasons.
applicationofregulationstoshops and Hotels.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs what action the Department of Trade and Customs proposes to take in order to bring shops and hotels under the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Regulations and what action is contemplated by the Government to give relief to hotelkeepers who are affected by the restriction of the sale of various kinds of liquor.
– There has been insufficient time to give consideration to the second aspect of the honorable member’s question, but both aspects are important, and I shall refer them to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and advise the honorable member later of the position.
– In view of recent newspaper paragraphs, I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it isthe case that at a meeting on the 11th February last, convened and presided over by His Honour Mr. Justice Owen Dixon, 24 representatives in all of the Central Wool Committee, the Australian Wool-growers Council, the Australian Wool Producers Association, and the National Council of Woolselling Brokers, representing all States, unanimously passed a resolution opposing the opening of any further country wool appraisement centres for reasons of unnecessary expense and of man-power shortage?
– I have been informed that a meeting of the nature referred to by the honorable member has been held. Although I, as the Minister for Commerce, and also certain officers of my department, were vitally concerned in the issues to be dealt with by the meeting, no invitation was received by us to be present. Despite this concerted action by certain vested interests, the Government considers it to be absolutely essential to the best interests of the woolgrowers of Australia, and also to the safe custody of certain wool purchased by the Government of the United Kingdom, that a number of country appraisement centres shall be established, and it intends to take action to that end.
Contacts between Supreme Commander and Government.
-Inviewofthefact that it is, and will continue to be, extremely difficult for the Commonwealth Government, functioning in Canberra, and for the Supreme Commander of the American and Australian forces, functioning in Melbourne, to maintain that close and continuous contact which is essential to victory, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give consideration to the desirability of bringing the defence head-quarters to Canberra immediately, or, alternatively, of holding meetings of the Parliament and Cabinet in Melbourne during the next few months, or while the present grave emergency persists?
– The association between this Government and the Supreme Commander is not determined by geography. None of the postulates to which the honorable gentleman has referred are necessary in order that there may be the most intimate consultation between the Supreme Commander and those upon whom it devolves to advise him. There will be an Australian Commander who will operate under the Supreme Commander. All operational matters will be decided, I hope, on the basis of military strategy. The Government will regard it as a duty to give the maximum support to such strategical decisions as may be made.
National Security Regulations
– Having regard to the fact that National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations, issued under Statutory Rule 1942, No. 92, gave to the Minister for Munitions and the Minister for Aircraft Production authority to fix the wages of female employees in Government munition factories, I ask the Minister for Munitions whether it is a fact that the Government proposes to establish a tribunal to fix the rates of wages for female workers in such factories? I should also like to know what rates of pay will apply to such female workers pending the determination of the matter by such tribunal. Have any rates been fixed yet?
– A board is to be established to determine the degree of efficiency of females engaged in munitions work usually undertaken by men. Pending the determination of the matter by the tribunal it has been decided that women shall be paid 60 per cent. of the rates payable to men for similar work. If the managements of factories indicate that certain women have attained a higher degree of efficiency than 60 per cent., such women will certainly be given the advantage of their increased efficiency immediately. The decision of the tribunal will take effect from a date which may be regarded as being just to the women concerned.
Lack of Discipline - Minors - Inadequate Training
– Has the Minister for the Army received reports indicating a serious lack of discipline in certain units of the military forces? If so, what action has he taken ordoes he propose to take to ensure that the military forces will reach the standard of discipline which is required to ensure that their efficiency will not be impaired ?
– There have been isolated reports indicating a lack of discipline, and instructions have been issued that a high standard of discipline mustbemaintained in the military forces and all other branches of the fighting forces in Australia.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he can give me an assurance that effect will be given to an order issued by him some time ago, details of which appeared in the press, that young men of eighteen years of age who had been posted to operational stations, would be withdrawn and replaced by men of more mature age?
– by leave - Representations have recently been made to me concerning members of the military forces under nineteen years of age posted to Port Moresby, Darwin and other operational stations by military officers without reference to me, and as to what age groups should be sent to these operational centres.
As honorable members are well aware, the necessities - of the war situation required the calling up for military training of youths of eighteen years of age and upwards. In pursuance of this programme, a number of young men who were physically fit and not already engaged in reserved occupations, were called up for military duty and were posted and absorbed as integral parts of the existing unit organization. Being young and energetic, and having had the advantage of the association with older men who had had longer military experience, they quickly became a useful part of the army organization. In the over-riding necessity for national defence it became necessary at extremely short notice to strengthen certain northern defences. Accordingly, certain units were posted to these stations. It so happened that these units contained some of the younger men referred to. The urgency of the situation did not permit the withdrawal of these younger men from their units. It will be realized that such action would not only have had an upsetting effect on the organization, hut also it would have involved the necessity for obtaining personnel from elsewhere to take their places. Such a disturbance would have had a damaging effect on morale. The majority of the men affected have now had more than three months’ training.
– That is not so; some of thom had only three weeks’ training.
– The honorable member is doubtless referring to the length of time for which the men had been in training before they were sent to the operational stations. I am not seeking to justify the sending of such young men to operational stations before they have received adequate training. By now all the men have had more than three months’ training, and they have also had unit association and knowledge of the locality in which they are operating. When certain cases were brought under my notice early in January, I ordered that an instruction be issued that no more untrained young men under twenty years of age should be sent to’ operational stations.
I might add that the Royal Australian Air Force accepts young men for service at eighteen years of age. The Navy accepts them at a minimum age of seventeen years and may despatch them to sea before they reach eighteen years of age. In the first Australian Imperial Force the age group 18 to 20 years constituted 20 per cent, of the total personnel embarked for service, and equalled nearly 39 per cent, of the total population of that age group.
It is necessary to bear in mind, also, that any part of Australia may become an operational area at any moment and units must be used in any area irrespective of their district of origin. Consideration is being given to the practicability of a suggestion to relieve any inadequately trained members of the Australian Military Forces between eighteen and nineteen years of age who are now at Darwin and Port Moresby. The Government may be relied upon to treat the whole matter most sympathetically.
– I have received to-day a telegram in the following terms : -
Understand exemption for working principals in -rural industries and commerce is being crossed out of man-power books; if so. urge inquiry, as working principals rural industries would be called upon.
Will the Minister for Labour and National Service give me some information on the subject?
– The Government has decided against the principle of block exemptions. It discovered that in many instances men had secured exemption who were not justly entitled to it. Every application is now determined on its merits.
– Having regard to the great importance of maintaining operations in our food-producing industries, and to the fact that the labour supply in many country districts is to-day so seriously depleted that a great deal of work on farms has to be left undone, thereby seriously reducing production although the maintenance of food supplies for our fighting services and those of our Allies is of vital importance, I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he will order a close examination of the position, particularly in the food-producing industries, in order to ensure that the essential labour requirements of. those industries shall not be withdrawn to a disastrous degree?
– The Government appreciates the importance of the foodproducing industries. It is also aware of the difficulties under which many rural industries are at present operating. A national register of man-power is being compiled. When complete information is available concerning the man-power position, the Government will make all necessary allocations. The needs of rural industries will not be overlooked.
Use byCivil Aviation Department.
– In view of the posi tion of Australia to-day, does the Minister for Air consider it wise to allow the Civil Aviation Department to continue to use aerodromes which are a part of the Royal Australian Air Force establishments?
– The reverse, I believe, is the case - the Royal Australian Air Force is using aerodromes that were originally designed for use by the Civil Aviation Department. Every precaution is being taken, where civil aviation aerodromes have to be used by the Royal
Australian Air Force, to afford that measure of protection which is essential in the light of the threat to Australia.
– In view of the likelihood of the destruction in certain circumstances of many hundreds of motor boats, yachts, and similar small craft, of an aggregate value of many thousands of pounds, will the Minister for the Navy recommend that the principles of the war damage insurance scheme be applied to the owners of such craft?
– I shall have pleasure in considering the suggestion.
– In view of the evacuation of many persons from the Mandated Territory and the Northern Territory in circumstances involving some hardship, will the Minister for Social Services make to this House a statement setting out what steps have been taken for their maintenance pending their absorption in employment?
– Ishall nave pleasure in doing so at the earliest possible moment. In order that the honorable member may not be caused further worry, I inform him that machinery has already been set in motion, and depots are being established throughout Australia as rapidly as possible, in order to meet the needs of such cases as he has mentioned. Several cases have already been catered for. There is no need for any person, of any nationality, who reaches Australia and experiences lack of sustenance, to continue in that condition.
Appointment as Ministerof State of the United Kingdom.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle- Prime Minister. - I lay on the table the following paper: -
Documents relating to the appointment of His Majesty’s Australian Minister at Washington (Right HonorableR. G. Casey)as Minister of State of the United Kingdom.
– by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) having tabled a white paper detailing the cables that have been exchanged in relation to the resignation of the Australian Minister atWashington, and his subsequent appointment as British Minister of State in the Middle East, it is to be hoped that the incident is closed. Already the people of Australia, our Allies, and the enemy have witnessed a public controversy in relation to this matter which cannot be regarded as other than unfortunate. No useful purpose could possibly be served at this juncture by the (reiteration of matters to which sufficient, if unfortunate, publicity has already been given; consequently, I do not intend to refer to the merits or demerits of what is covered by the white paper. Both the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of Great Britain are fully occupied in the prosecution of the war, the gravity of which must be recognized by every honorable member. Their principal task is to wage war relentlessly and vigorously against the Axis. It is our duty to help them and our Allies to get on with the job ; therefore, we should not waste valuable time on a controversy concerning Mr. Casey’s appointment.
I take this opportunity, however, on behalf of the Opposition, to pay tribute to the consistent, conscientious and invaluable services rendered to Australia, to the British Empire, and to our cause, by Mr. R. G. Casey. If evidence were needed as to the value of his services, it is to be found in the attitude of the Government with respect to his resignation, and his transfer to another sphere of activity. I know that he will execute his new, onerous, and responsible task with entire credit to himself and with satisfaction to all concerned.
Mr.CALWELL (Melbourne) [3.56]. - I move -
That the paper be printed.
In view of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), and the press controversy that has taken place, honorable members may desire to voice their views at some later stage.
– I am a member of the minority in this place who do not think that this paper should simply be printed and the matter be allowed to rest there. Certain very vital principles are involved in the unfortunate controversy which has taken place between the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of Great Britain within the last few days. It is rather remarkable that a man possessing the record of the Australian Minister at Washington, should have been invited to join the Government of the United Kingdom and should have had the termination of his services on behalf of the Australian Government accepted by that Government without, so far as I know, a solitary syllable of appreciation of his services in Washington having been uttered by any member of the Government.
– He has not yet terminated his services. What is the honorable member talking about?
– I am talking about the white paper.
– The honorable member has not read it.
– I have read the statements that have appeared in the press, and I heard a good deal about the matter over the air last Sunday night. The Prime Minister was badly beaten to the post. He threatened to lay the documents on the table of this House, but he was forestalled by their being read over the air on Sunday night.
– I did not say a word about the matter until I was told that a portion of one telegram was to be quoted. My answer was that the right procedure was to quote all of them.
– There are some things which this Parliament has to consider. The request has been made from timeto time, I believe by this Government as well as by the previous Government, for some form of direct representation of Australia in an Imperial War Cabinet. It is a remarkable circumstance that so soon as one very distinguished member of the Australian community should have been offered a post in which he would be ableto do a very big job for the Commonwealth in connexion with the direction of the war, this controversy should have broken out. But I have one or two other things at the back of my mind. My mind goes back to a certain statement made by the Prime Minister on the 26th December last. I say to the honorable gentleman that for some time past there has been too much of a tendency on the part of himself and some of his colleagues to appear to be playing off Great Britain against the United States of America. I am very thankful for what the United States of America is proposing to do in regard to the prosecution of the war against Japan. I did not expect that country to engage in the conflict at a very early stage and in that estimate I was not wrong. There is too much of & tendency on the part of Ministers to attempt to make it appear that there is a rift between this country and the United Kingdom. There is no rift between Australia and Great Britain so far as 95 per cent, of the people of ‘this country are concerned. There is no desire on the part of our people to look to Washington instead of to London as their racial and spiritual home. It is up to the Government to put a brake on such utterances. The way in which they are picked up and used to the common detriment of every one of us by the Japanese, Italian, and German radios shows how dangerous they are.
There is another point that I would put to the Prime Minister. Diplomatic business can never be conducted satisfactorily if, at some unknown time in the future, one party to the negotiations lays on the table of the House all the documents connected with the matter. In the cables that have been published in the press there were certain personal references to transactions and statements between man and man, which, I am perfectly sure, would never have been included in them had their author believed that within a week or two they would be published to the world. The Government has to take a grip of that situation. Within the last few weeks we have heard certain statements. The last statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) does not make very good reading in this regard. We ought to be very careful of the way in which we discuss relations between ourselves and allied governments.
I do not want to say much more, although there is a lot that I could say, but I do affirm that, this country ought to be very thankful that a former member of this House has been given the appointment he is to hold.
– Because he is highly qualified for the .position. If there is one man in this country who is qualified for the position, ‘ it is the man who has it to-day.
– Both as diplomat and soldier.
– He was also an excellent representative in this House, and he will display qualities of an equally high order wherever he goes. The time has come when the Government of this country must adopt an attitude towards the relationship of Australia and the United Kingdom very different from that which has characterized its public utterances over the last three months. If Ministers think that they are going to “ cash in “ on anything, by attempting to make it appear that we are more inclined to go to one side than another of the Atlantic, they completely misread public opinion in this country. Australia is, and will remain, whatever conies, part and parcel of the British Empire, and nothing else. It is on that, ground that the Government of the Commonwealth ought to take its stand. It is on that ground that I expect the Government of the Commonwealth to take its stand ; and I hope that in future there will be no more unfortunate lapses such as we have witnessed in the last few days in connexion with this rather intricate and interesting appointment.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has moved that the papers be printed, and I support that motion because I think that our historical records should be complete; but I think that, even in these days of job-hunting and make-believe - which are volatile characteristics of this time of war - this is still an outstanding example of a small thing being made to look great. I do not know whether there could be any matter at the present time of less importance than the question of whether Mr. Casey shall go from the United States of America or stay there. The occasion is meet for recalling the circumstances and political manoeuvring associated ‘with his leaving this country for Washington. He was at that time, as I happen to know very well, suffering from a sense of frustration. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) had beaten him somewhat handsomely in the race for the Prime Ministership of this country, and Mr. Casey’s first reaction was- immediately to rush off to what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) very properly described as his spiritual home in the United Kingdom to seek some sort of soothing ointment for his wounds. When, in due course, he returned to Australia, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) being, in spite of their differences, a good-natured man when he was able to get everything he wanted, had relented, and immediately made the job at “Washington for Mr. Casey, just as Mr. Bruce had made Mr. Casey’s job as liaison officer in the first place. History, therefore, repeated itself. Apparently, Mr. Casey regarded the political position in Australia as being unsettled fmd, from his point of view, unsatisfactory - as, indeed, it was. Mr. Casey was so situated that he never knew when he would get the “ order of the boot “ from the Australian Government, and it is very natural that he should have jumped on the running-board of Mr. Winston Churchill’s train at New York with all the celerity and adroitness of a ticket checker, and bitten that right honorable gentleman’s distinguished ear all the way from there to Washington. It is not difficult to know the nature of that conversation. I hasten to add that Mr. Casey and I were quite good friends. Personally, I liked him very much. I can imagine how he addressed Mr. Churchill. He would naturally say: “ Well, now, Winston, you know me, don’t you? I am the gentleman with the Irish name, but definitely not Irish. I am the bloke that Bruce put into a job in the United Kingdom when he showed how our Public Service Act could be evaded painlessly. Good fellow, Bruce, Winston, good fellow! Now I want you to give me a job; things are tough in Australia. A Labour Government is in power - queer guys, these Labour fellows. The Government seems to be all right, and Caucus at the moment seems to be all right, but you never can tell what might happen. As a matter of fact, a Caucus that would make a
Minister out of Eddie Ward might do anything.” We can imagine him continuing in that vein, and going on to say : “ Now, Winston, I have got Halifax all right on the Christian side, and I have Hopkins all right on the other side; and the Australian Government - that’s easy, if you write a personal letter to Curtin. I know Curtin, and he’ll frame it.” We can imagine Mr. Casey chuckling, and saying as a parting word when they got nearer the station at Washington, “ Tell him when you write to him to appoint Menzies. I should’ love to see Bob on the gridiron after the way he treated me.”
Some honorable members seem to think that we are living in very amusing times, seeing that they are prepared to laugh at this graphic and exact account of an unimportant event. I repeat that, to me, it is a matter of profound unimportance whether Mr. Casey remains in Washington, or goes to his spiritual home in London. And it is particularly his spiritual home. When I had the honour to represent Australia at Geneva, Mr. Casey was then merely a liaison officer and I was somebody of importance. Now, you see how events have changed. I am of no importance, and he is, apparently, of great importance. However, when he came to Geneva, he wanted to know whether he could be of any assistance to me as leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations. I told him, I hope with becoming modesty, that I was thoroughly familiar with all the diplomacy of the 56 nations represented at Geneva, and that I did not want any assistance, so that he could avail himself of his return ticket to London; or, if he felt that the air of Campagna was oppressive, I would frank him to the top of Mont Blanc. Yet he was very nice and polite, and in his own spiritual home I think he will be able to do as much good as Mr. Winston Churchill has been able to accomplish. May I add that, up to the present, that is not a great deal.
– It is more than De Valera has been able to do.
– With this exception, that Mr. Churchill has not maintained peace in his own country. Through no fault of mine, ‘ my fellow countrymen are being slaughtered in my own country, and to me that is a matter of tremendous interest. I think we should concentrate more on that subject of importance and interest to Australia than on the unimportant question of Mr. Casey’s unhappiness in Washington - where he suffered grave anxiety as to whether he would get the boot at any time - or of his translation to his spiritual home on the other side of the water.
– It would be a deplorable thing if the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) were to be regarded by anybody as a true reflection of the feeling of members of this House or of the general public. I feel called upon to say something upon this subject, because, for many years, I, more perhaps than and other honorable member here with the exception of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), have been a friend of Mr. Casey, and I know a good deal about his personal qualifications. I agree in great part with what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said this afternoon.
– It would be surprising if the honorable member did not.
– HUGHES. - The honorable member for Barker is not a bad man to have beside one. He holds definite views, and expresses them, and he is more often right than are a great many others who express their views. On the general question I am entirely with him, and I also approve of what was said by the honorable members for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and for Boothby (Dr. Price) on a previous occasion on the subject of Australian-British relat ions. It is deplorable, at a time like this, that the Government of this country should adopt pin-pricking tactics in its relationswith the mother land of us all - the land which, whatever we may owe to the United States of America in the future, is the one which has enabled us to became what we are.
– The honorable member willagree that we should be realistic.
– We are. If the honorable member had been realistic with regard to the war years ago, as some of us were, we would be in a better position to-day. Remembering all the consideration that we have received from the Old Country for 150 years, people might reasonably be expected at this time, even if they thought that there was some cause for grumbling about details, topreservee silence. I cannot acquit the Prime Minister of having, by the speech that he delivered at the end of last year, started the ball rolling, and it has rolled merrily ever since, to the detriment of the whole country.
I do not propose to discuss to-day, although I might do so on some future occasion, the matter of the conflict between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Prime Minister of Australia, but I believe that the opinions expressed by Sir Keith Murdoch in the Melbourne Herald last Monday evening were very much to the point. I agree with those views. In this war, as in all wars, we should try to play our maximum part. Quite obviously, a man who holds a great post - an Empire post - will have an opportunity to play a greater part than he would if he held a great post in a dominion. That, I have not the slightest doubt, is one of the reasons that prompted Mr. Casey to reach his decision. Probably there are other reasons. One of them may be described as a feeling of insecurity of tenure, which is a source of anxiety to many people in many walks of life.
– The danger is “ the order of the boot “.
– The honorable member refers to the “ order ofthe boot “. That is the matter with which I propose to deal. Mr. Casey had a distinguished military career, but in 1924 the Labour party, including the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) voted against the Public Service Bill as a protest against the despatch of Mr. Casey to London as liaison officer. In spite of that opposition, Mr. Casey went, and he proved to be a first-class liaison officer. He was the first thorough-going diplomatist that this country has produced. It is quite fair to say, without disparaging others, that he is the greatest diplomatist that Australia has yet produced.
– Nonsense ! His duties were not concerned with diplomacy.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to give some of my reasons for thinking differently from the honorable member. I happened to be in London in 1924-5 and again in 1929-30. Through Mr. Casey, I met many people, some of whom had held senior positions in the Foreign Office, and 1 had an opportunity of discovering their opinion of him. As long ago as that, they had a great respect for his talents. When he resigned, he returned to Australia. I should remind honorable members that whereas Mr. Casey could have spent the rest of his life in London if he had so wished, he desired to serve his country in Australia and in the political sphere. I do not like the phrase “ meteoric rise “, but every one must admit that he had at least an extremely rapid rise to the front rank, and that he was recognized in Parliament as being a man of great courtesy and ability. Later, he went to Washington, where, it is generally agreed, he proved to be a great success. However, such a measure of success is useless if one’s .appointment is liable at any moment to be terminated. A diplomatist is not supposed to have an opinion different from that of the Government which he represents, but no doubt Mr. Casey had examined without much pleasure the personal views of the Government upon certain subjects, and, perhaps, the attitude of ihe Australian Prime Minister to Great Britain. As he looked back, he could see that other former members of Parliament, who had disagreed with the political views of the Government, were being retired from their posts.
– Who were they?
– I have only to refer to the Army. General Drake-Brockman, General Rankin and Brigadier Harrison, all of whom had distinguished military records but had sat on a different side of the political fence from the Government, were retired from their positions.
– Does the honorable member suggest that those retirements were actuated by political bias?
– I say that when an action becomes a habit it would bc only natural for the man who was in a similar category to think that his turn might come next. Only a week ago, the former anti-Labour Premier of New South Wales, Sir Bertram Stevens, was notified of his recall from New Delhi, where he represented Australia on the Eastern Group Supply Council.
– The honorable member has not the remotest idea of the facts. Sir Bertram Stevens informed the Government that it was impossible for him to carry on his work on the previous scale, and he asked to be recalled.
– Have those facts appeared in the press?
– The honorable member should find out the facts before he makes accusations.
– One can ascertain the facts only from the press. The House meets so infrequently that honorable members have not an opportunity to learn the reason for various developments.
– Why not inquire before making such an assertion?
– I say that Sir Bertram Stevens is being retired whether or not at his own request.
– The honorable member said that retirement of Sir Bertram Stevens was a lesson and example to some one else.
– Apart from the instance of Sir Bertram Stevens, I have quoted other examples of the retirement of men who were the political opponents of the Government.
– The retirements of the high army officers were made solely and exclusively on the recommendation of the Military Board.
– In any case-
– That is the only case.
– Mr. Casey may even have read in Hansard that the honorable member for Batman said in December, 1940, that “ Mr. Casey is now occupying a safe nook in a friendly neutral country”. No soldier would ever make such a suggestion as that about Mr. Casey. Now, he will go from a country which is even more friendly but which is not neutral and is no longer a safe nook. His feelings of doubt about the future might not have been set at rest by the fact that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) was looming very near. I should like in passing to remark that I see no necessity for sending another Minister to Washington.
– That opinion differs from the view of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender).
– That does not matter; it is my view. No doubt it was desirable to send some one from Australia to Washington; but, in my opinion, not a politician but a firstclass business man with full power to act was required.
What alternative courses were open to Mr. Casey? He could have waited in Washington until he was recalled.
– Where did that suggestion emanate?
– It was one course open to Mr. Casey.
– Who put it forward?
– I put it forward.
– The honorable member is trying to manufacture.
– The other course open to Mr. Casey was to accept an extremely high Empire position which had been offered to him and which would give him greater opportunities than any Australian possesses at present to serve the British Commonwealth.
– Why is the honorable member stonewalling?
– I am not stonewalling. I rejoice in Mr. Casey’s promotion, and so should every one else in the country who is not a “little Australian “.
– He was appointed because he occupied a particular post.
– The British Prime Minister has appointed Mr. Casey to a position of the first importance, one of the leading positions in the Empire. He was appointed not because he held any particular post, but because of his personal merits. The Government, having lost them, is now beginning to realize the greatness of the merits which have attracted the attention of the Prime Minis ter of Great Britain. Had a. New Zealander been appointed to the post, I venture to say that every other New Zealander would have rejoiced that their countryman had been singled out for’ such a signal honour. Many Australians have a similar feeling regarding the appointment of Mr. Casey. It is deplorable to suggest that he deserted his post, and that he is no longer a true Australian. From the narrower standpoint, Australia will have an extremely capable emissary at the centre of the European panorama: he will undoubtedly be of great assistance to this country. But. from the wider angle, it is refreshing that the Empire and its allies will have the advantage of his extraordinary combination of rare gifts - public service, bound less energy and wide experience of men and affairs.
M.r. Pollard. - Is this a funeral oration?
– No. I am trying to dispel the impression that may have been created by the honorable member for Batman, who reminded me of the rhyme about Mr. Birrell : “ He does his best to turn great faith to a little jest”. Mr. Casey has a most extraordinary combination of talents. With those talents, he remains still a thoroughly loyal Australian. It would have been a great honour for Australia if any Australian bad been selected for such a high post, and we should be grateful to think that the one who has been chosen possesses so many fine qualities.
“5.32]. - I am compelled to say something about the accusations which have been made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Each of them has, in the most direct way, said that I. have been very largely responsible for causing to develop in this country a very severe breach of unity with Great Britain. The points which are cited as proof of the correctness of that accusation are contained in the speech which I delivered on the 26th December last. I am certain that history, and all Australians who look at the facts to-day as I saw them on the 26th December, will regard that speech as being intended to preserve one of the most important parts of the whole structure of the British Commonwealth. The honorable member for Wakefield seemed to imply that a case for Australia is a case against the partners of Australia. I submit to him, and to all who think with him, that 7,000,000 Britishers in this part of the globe are as vital to the cause of the whole of the British Empire as any other Britishers in any other part of the globe.
-Were they forgotten in Washington?
– I am not saying that they were forgotten. I made no accusations in that statement. I said that we were looking to the United States of America to play a big part in the Pacific struggle, not because Great Britain was not willing to do so, or because there was any misconception in Australia as to the position of Britain, but because of the very great obligations that Britain had to hear in other theatres, and of the strain that had been imposed upon that country, and of the very geography of the whole situation.
– The Prime Minis ter did not say that.
– I did, and I have often repeated it. I come now to the last episode, and I shall say very little about it. The facts briefly are as follows : -
The Prime Minister of Great Britain asked me what would be my view if he were to invite Mr. Casey to take a certain appointment. I told him that it would be a great honour to Mr. Casey and to Australia if he did what he proposed to do. But an Australian Minister was arriving in Washington. In Australia there was a great body of American forces, and we had accepted a military officer of the United States of America as the supreme commander in this theatre of war. Consequently, there would be a great deal of intimacy in the relationship between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia. It was, therefore, desirable, in my view - and I was only asked to state my view - that no proposal of that kind should be made to Mr. Casey at that juncture. If I am asked for my view, I am. entitled to put it as I see it, and that is how I saw it. Is it suggested that I was asked not to state my view, but merely to acquiesce? No, I was asked for my view; and I gave it, and I was asked, as the papers will disclose, to waive that demurrer. I did. But the cables disclose that the offer was to be purely personal to Mr. Casey. Mr. Casey in the middle of the night telephoned to me. That was after I had waived the demurrer. What he said to me is set out in the documents, because his cable next morning was a repetition of his telephone conversation with me, as was my cable to him. That is where the matter stood. Mr. Casey had cabled to me that a certain proposition had been put to him and asked what was my view. I cabled to him. That is where the negotiations stood. I had had no reply from Mr. Casey to that cable when I was informed by the newspapers and the broadcasting system of this country that the Australian Minister at Washington had accepted another appointment. That was the fact. I was asked whether it was true that this appointment had been accepted - what did I know about it.I merely told the press that Mr. Casey had intimated to me that he had received this proposition and had asked me for a statement of the views of the Australian Government; that I had told him what the views of the Australian Government were, and that to that I had had no reply. Well, I can understand that the Prime Minister of Great Britain, reading that statement, would probably assume - that is the unfortunate accident about the business - that my remarks were directed as though he had not carried out his part of the matter in an entirely proper way. He had done so, and I told him that. I said, and 1 still say, that I had no complaint of any sort against him. Mr. Churchill put a proposition to me. I did not like it and told him so. He pressed his view as he was entitled to do. I waived my objection and said, “ Do the best you can, but keep Mr. Casey in Washington long enough to ensure that Dr. Evatt’s mission will not be incommoded “.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) spoke of the insecurity of Mr. Casey as a factor in this matter, but did I not intimate to Mr. Churchill that his view of
Mr. Casey was our view of Mr. Casey? Have I not, as recently as the recent sittings of this Parliament, publicly placed on record my appreciation of the services of both Mr. Casey and Mr. Bruce? But is there something singular about Mr. Casey which places him in a different category from Sir Frederick Eggleston, Sir William Glasgow, or Mr. Bruce, or other men who are Ministers in other countries, and who, like Mr. Casey, were appointed not by this Government but by its predecessors? Is there anything about Mr. Casey that is not applicable to the others? As a matter of fact, I have not heard from either Mr. Casey or the other Ministers other than expressions of appreciation of the way in which we are endeavouring to do our work. I have the highest confidence in all the representatives of Australia wherever they are operating, and they know it. Those who threaten people with the “ boot “ are not Labour men. We do not hold the sword of Damocles over them. The boss and the representatives of theboss have that characteristic. I say that to the honorable member for Wakefield, who has been in and out of this Parliament, and who, with an ostentatious air of superiority because of his friendship with Mr. Casey, has the presumption to lecture me as though I have been personally culpable in my dealings with Mr. Casey.
Mr. Casey had no fear of the sack. I had confidence in his ability and satisfaction with his work, and he had no complaint to make to me. The first I knew that Mr. Casey was contemplating a change was not from Mr. Casey, but from Mr. Churchill. Mr. Casey did not ask this Government to change his position. He asked another government to do it. I said to him, “ We wish you to remain in the service of the Commonwealth Government “, but I also told him that we did not wish to keep an unwilling man in our service. That applies to anybody wherever he may be and in all circumstances. I hope that the men and women of this country and of all allied countries will pull together and that the leaders of their governments will do their very best to meet each other on a basis of respect, affinity, and straight dealing, and that views will be frankly and fearlessly expressed to each other. I hope that a great deal of this can be done without the necessity for subsequent quotation from documents, but when quotation is considered necessary, it is preferable, in my opinion, to quote the whole and not merely a part. I say most decisively, so far as the Prime Minister of Great Britain and myself are concerned, that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work he has done and confidence in his capacity for leadership. I have not said a word either on or off the record, in cables, or elsewhere which can be construed as a reflection on his position. But whoever is Prime Minister of this country, Prime Minister of Great Britain, or leader of any other country with which we are associated in this cause, surely, if we can stick together, fault-finders down beneath can keep their mouths closed.
.-I address myself with some diffidence to this motion in view of my personal relationship to Mr. Casey, which is well known to the House. I have no desire to go into the merits or demerits of the appointment, but I do share the concern expressed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) about the unfortunate reactions to the Government’s decision in this matter and about some of its activities in diplomatic affairs. The question asked of the Government by Mr. Churchill was perfectly simple, and it required a simple answer. The Government could very well have said “ yes “ or “ no “ to the question without further ado. As the result of the action taken by the Government there has been confusion in the minds of a great many Australians as to the motives underlying the transfer of Mr. Casey. It has undoubtedly caused friction in London and, I venture to think, in Washington.
The facts leading to Mr. Casey’s appointment seem to me to be entirely simple. The post of British Minister in the Middle East had fallen vacant, and it was decided, necessarily, to find some one to succeedCaptain Oliver Lyttleton. It seems not unnatural that Mr. Churchill’s choice should have fallen on
Mr. Casey, in view of his record of service at Washington, his experience as an administrator and a diplomat, and the fact that he knows both the United States of America and Australia and is acquainted with Great Britain. It seems quite natural that a man with all those qualifications, which I think are not possessed to an equal degree by any one else I know. should have been given consideration for the appointment. That appointment, I imagine, would be regarded by thinking people in Great Britain as likely to give satisfaction to Australia. After all, the Middle East is a vital theatre to us. We proved, that, by sending tens of thousands of our best men to the Middle East. Their reinforcement by the appointment of one of our best sons surely might have been thought to go down well with us. The United States of America has increased commitments and increased interest in the Middle East. The people of the United States of America have known Mr. Casey for two years. I think he has the confidence of their Administration, and I think that it is therefore clear that the United States of America also would have welcomed the appointment. Therefore, for those reasons, it seems quite natural that Mr. Churchill should have made the proposal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). When the proposal was made, the position was quite simple. Mr. Casey was either essential or not essential to Australia. If essential, it would have been quite simple to tell the British Government after the second telegram that it was regretted that we were unable to spare Mr. Casey.
– Was that not done?
– After the first telegram, yes, but not after the second. We were prepared’, in effect, to let him go, provided he remained long enough to put the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) wise to happenings and persons at Washington. That was the extent of the demurrer, if not the phraseology. If the Government did not regard Mr. Casey’s continuance in Washington as essential it could have said so, and the matter would have ended without further ado.
However, as I was saying, my concern is not directed to this isolated unfortunate case, but. to the fact that it has occurred before. The Prime Minister referred just now to his message to the United States of America on the 26th December. I think that the intention on that occasion was admirable and I have no criticism to offer at all. The object which the Prime Minister desired to achieve by his telegram was admirable, but, notwithstanding his admirable intentions, the effects both in this country and abroad were quite deplorable. That is a matter of fact. Many people in this country resented the implication that we had been left in the lurch by the United Kingdom. The same feeling was aroused in Great Brtain, and also in the United States of America. I have had several communications from America telling quite plainly the impression that this message left on the people there. Had it not been for the fact that our prestige stands extremely high in the United States of America at present, owing to the great feats of our sailors, soldiers and airmen, the American press would have stated the next day under big headlines that Australia was trying to sever old loyalties in so appealing to America for help in its hour of great distress. I know that such thoughts stirred in many hearts in America at that time. This, in my view, was most deplorable. For these reasons- 1 consider that the Government should exercise great care in all future diplomatic dealings with countries abroad. One of our great necessities, in our present Cl r.stances, is to maintain harmony and to avoid discord among the allied countries. We should remember that the prestige of Great Britain, under Mr. Churchill, is very high in the United States of America at present, as it is also in Australia. Had not England remained the bulwark of democracy against the Axis powers for eighteen months there would have been no Australia to-day. Admittedly, many grave mistakes have been made by Great Britain, but the United States of America hits had its Pearl Harbour, and we, also, have had our Pearl Harbour. Therefore, we should look to our own record before we criticize others or indulge in recriminations. Our great need at present is harmony. I remind honorable members of the words of Napoleon, “ Give me allies to fight against “. Those words will bear careful thought to-day. We should regard all our associations with our allies with tolerance and understanding. Unless we do so we shall undoubtedly fall into the errors of the last war. Some honorable members had personal experience of the quarrels and disagreements that occurred among the Allies during the last war. Those honorable gentlemen who had no such experience will doubtless have read about those troubles. The fact is that the discords and disagreements of those days brought us more than once to the brink of disaster. Looking back on such experiences through the passage of the years, it is astonishing not only that the quarrels should have occurred, but also that in spite of them we gained the victory. In the light of those happenings we should be warned, and we should do our utmost to regard with tolerance and understanding the desires and actions of those who are associated with us. We must achieve harmony of action. Without it we can have no assurance of final victory.
Motion (by Mr. Abbott) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– Under Standing Order No. 119 this debate must be interrupted at 5 o’clock. Perhaps that will achieve what the honorable member desires.
.- It is unfortunate that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) should have insinuated that the Commonwealth Government is more inclined, in these days, to court the friendship of the United States of America than that of Great Britain. I give the insinuation an emphatic denial. The truth is that the Government is adopting the policy enunciated by the late Mr. Chamberlain in the early days of the war when he declared that the duty of the British Government was to defend first Great Britain itself, then its trade routes, and, thirdly, its colonies. In my view the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) should be congratulated upon having made his appeal of December last to the United States of America. Following that appeal, America has sent assistance to Australia, not only in munitions, but also in man-power. We have been proud to welcome the Americans to our shores.
I have a great personal regard for Mr. Casey, although politically I have frequently disagreed with him. He probably rendered good service to Australia as a liaison officer. But his best service to this country was when he resigned as member for Corio, and opened the way for a good Labour representative to be elected in his place. I consider that in leaving his position in the United States of America Mr. Casey has infringed the laws of this country. It is well known that workers are to-day debarred from changing their jobs without permission. National security regulations issued under Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77, provide that a man-power committee shall determine whether a person shall be allowed to leave his work to take another job. I desired the Prime Minister to demur to Mr. Casey leaving his job, but I must admit that I was unable to locate the honorable gentleman in order to ask him to defer action against the miners at Glen Davis and Richmond Main. The Government caused the regulations under Statutory Rule? 1942, No. 77, to be issued when 1 was doing my best to settle certain disputes in the coal-mining industry. No consideration was given to the coalminers, and I cannot see any reason why special consideration should have been given to Mr. Casey. In my view Mr. Casey has deserted Australia* The petty excuse made on his behalf by some honorable gentleman that he was likely to “ get the boot “ carries no weight with me. He would never have got “ the boot “. He never has been “ booted “ from a job in this country. He has always resigned his job. I hope that the precedent he set when he resigned as member for Corio will be followed by him again. Where did Mr. Casey get his start in life? Until 1930 he had spent ;he greater part of his life in England. All his interests, and most of his property, are in England. He came out to Australia in 1930, and in 1931 he was elected to this Parliament. Since then he has had a great deal of publicity. We all are well aware that he was Mr. Bruce’s white-haired boy. In his latest position he was in the employ of Australia, and he has undoubtedly acted wrongly in leaving it, particularly as the Prime Minister made it clear that Australia desired him to “ hold down the job “. He failed to do this. Although workers may be prosecuted for leaving their employment without permission, itappears that Mr. Casey is to be allowed to leave his position without penalty. In my view he has done a wrong to Australia. I do not agree with some honorable gentlemen opposite who have said that an attempt is being made to gain political capital out of this matter. Australia needs all the assistance it can get in these days, and we should be thankful for all the help that is given to us. In our present circumstances we are fully entitled to apply the policy enunciated at the beginning of the war by the late Mr. Chamberlain and endorsed by the British House of Commons. In following the law of self-preservation we are acting naturally. Australia should do its utmost to preserve itself. The honorable member for Wakefield’ said, in the violent manner in which he is accustomed to address honorable members, that if we had listened to him years ago, we should have been wise, for be was the only one who saw the danger that threatened the country. But what about the workers? Did they not see the danger that threatened Australia when they went on strike as a protest against the export of pig iron to japan?
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 119.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development able to inform me whether any decision has yet been reached regarding the selection of sites For power alcohol distilleries in Victoria?
– No decision has yet hern made on that subject.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development able to state whether a site has yet been selected in Western Australia for the establishment of a power alcohol distillery? If not, when will he be in a position to make the statement?
– A decision has not been made in connexion with any of the sites. At this stage it would be undesirable to mention publicly the sites that are under consideration. Certain factor* have caused delay, which I regret. The honorable member must appreciate that within the last six weeks major problems have had to be decided which have taken up most of the time of Ministers. I hope to be able to make a decision within the next week.
– As it is well known that many children have become separated from their parents or guardians during bombing raids and evacuations in places overseas, I ask the Minister for Home Security whether the Government intends to enlarge the national register to include children, and to issue discs to them fm identification purposes ?
– That subject is being given urgent consideration at present. It is hoped that when the registration now in progress has been completed, steps will be taken to provide for the identification of children.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he will bring under the notice of the Government the desirability of providing an award similar to the George Medal, to be known as the Southern Cross or the Australian Cross, for bestowal on civilians who display inspiring courage and determination in defence of Australia, and also whether he will request that consideration be given to providing the recipients of such a decoration with a suitable pension?
– Consideration will be given to the suggestion.
– I bring to the notice of the Minister for War Organization of Industry the fact that a large number of men and ‘women are seeking employment in Brisbane in war activities. Will the honorable gentleman give consideration to the establishment of additional munitions works in Brisbane in order that the services of these people may be absorbed?
I understand that more than 8,000 persons have registered in Brisbane with i,he national employment officer and that there is no immediate prospect of providing work for them. In other parts of Australia great difficulty is being experienced in obtaining such labour.
– The unemployment position in Queensland is receiving the consideration of the Government. Foi security reasons, it is not considered advisable to establish large munitions works in that State. The Government considers that the unemployed people of Queensland could be best absorbed in other than the manufacture of munitions. So far as possible the Government is endeavouring to provide additional employment of that description in Queensland.
DRIFT to Mainland.
– I ask the Minister for Munitions: (1) Is he aware that, under the dilution scheme, skilled engineering tradesmen and trainees are leaving Tasmania for employment on the mainland, owing to the lack of facilities for the production of munitions in that State? (2) What has been done by the Department of Munitions to implement the Government’s policy of decentralization, thus preventing loss of man-power to the cities?. (3) Can the Minister suggest any means whereby this undesirable drift, of man-power may be prevented ?
– I have been aware for some considerable time of the drift of labour from Tasmania to the mainland. I have no doubt that a very large proportion of it has been skilled labour. With, a view to meeting the situation, a programme was evolved which resulted in the establishment of an annexe at the Launceston railway workshops to undertake certain work in connexion with shell manufacture. A further annexe is in course of construction at Hobart. I realize that, even so. there is evidently s surplus of technical labour available. The honorable gentleman will remember that, during my visit to Tasmania some weeks neo. a. request was made to me for the establishment of a plant for the manufacture of fuses in conjunction with tb”- man nf actu re of shells. The balancing of the programme makes it inopportune at the moment to install a further fuse factory in Tasmania. With a view to ascertaining what technical skill and machines are available in Tasmania and the extent to which they may be utilized in the manufacture of machine tools, I am having a survey made of the position. I hope to be able shortly to give to the honorable gentleman a definite reply as to the extent to which that may be possible.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Development yet come to a decision under which producers of small parcels of tin may be paid the same rate per unit as producers of larger parcels, who receive a premium payment?
– The honorable gentleman raised this matter during the last sittings of the House. I then expressed a view which was favorable to his proposal. I have asked the Minerals Committee, and particularly Mr. Newman, to submit to me a report on the matter. I assure the honorable gentleman that I agree with his views on the matter.
– Has the Minister for War Organization of Industry seen the large press advertisement by suiting firms offering for sale “ world-famous Simpson English suits “ at £13 13s. and £14 14s. each? As Australian clothing firms are allowed only a limited quantity of cloth, and have only a restricted opportunity to make civilian clothes, and as the Minister has begun an attack on luxury goods produced in Australia, what steps does he propose to take in order to prevent the importation and sale of goods such ns are described in this advertisement, in competition with Australian manufactures, in the now limited Australian market?
– The importation of such articles has now been prohibited. It is impossible for my department to regulate the sale of goods imported before that prohibition was imposed. In point nf fact, regulation of the importation of goods of any kind is a matter, not for my department, but for the Department of Trade and Customs. However, I assure the honorable member that the importation of such articles having now been prohibited, there will be no further competition from that source when the stocks now held in Australia have been sold.
– When may the
House expect the full and frank statement promised by the Minister for Munitions on various occasions during the last three months in regard to the payments made under the D.M.T. costplus system instituted by the Director of Machine Tools, Colonel Thorpe?
– At the earliest possible moment. A good deal of investigation has to be made in order to obtain the facts. The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini), who investigated the matter, will support me in saying that a number of months could be occupied in making the thorough investigation that has to be made of the accounts in these particular matters. If any one is to be impugned in regard to costs charged to the Commonwealth, I intend that a thorough examination shall be made of the accounts, in order that there shall be no mistake and that we shall act upon facts that cannot be disputed when we ultimately deal with the matter.
– Will the Treasurer state whether the Government is prepared to extend to other walks of life the system of deferred pay it has put into force universally in respect of the Militia? May I suggest that it be applied also to the Labour Corps, and to labour employed for war purposes, which is drawing more money an hour than a soldier receives daily? In other words, does the Government propose to extend the principle of compulsory savings so as to make it all-embracing, instead of its being confined to the troops?
-Thematterhasnot been considered, but consideration will be given to it.
– Has the Minister for the Army considered the importance of the carrier pigeon for local communication? Representations have been made to the effect that this is considered a most important adjunct of defence on the continent of Europe and in Great Britain. To what degree have the possibilities been exploited in Australia?
– I am fully alive to the importance of the carrier pigeon in modern warfare. Representations have already been made to me by some honorable members on behalf of the Carrier Pigeon Association, and I have agreed to receive at 12 noon in Melbourne next Wednesday a deputation consisting of representatives of that association in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. I shall then be able to give to the honorable gentleman full particulars of my decision.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether any officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have investigated beef from the Werribee sewerage farm? If so, will he make their reports available to honorable members ? If not, before he takes the final plunge in this big matter of the disposal of sewerage farm beef, will he have an investigation made by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research?
– I have had investigations made by reputable officials, as well as by officers of the Commonwealth Department of Health. I shall be pleased to show their reports to the honorable member.
– Can the Treasurer inform the House as to when he proposes to introduce the supplementary budget forecast last November, fulfilling the intention which honorable members were given to understand the Government then had, of increasing the invalid and old-age pension to 25s. a week?
– Certain items in what might be considered a supplementary budget were brought down last December, when provision was made for the imposition of a special war tax. I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to announce at a later stage the Government’s proposals in relation to social services.
– Will the Minister for the Army issue the direction that, before any more schools or colleges are taken over by the military authorities for office accommodation, action will be taken to seize the Melbourne, Atheneum, and Australian Clubs in Melbourne, and the Union, New South Wales, and Australian Clubs in Sydney, particularly as Mr. W. S. Robinson has now been appointed to Washington?
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestion.
Hooding of Motor Car Lights
– Motor cars travelling from Tweed Heads in New South Wales over the border toCoolangatta are not allowed to enter Queensland if they have hooded lights, whereas cars returning from Queensland to New South Wales are not allowed to enter the latter State unless they have hooded lights, so that it is necessary for motorists passing over the border to have two sets of lights in order to comply with the requirements of both States. I ask the Minister for Home Security whether it is not possible for the Commonwealth Government to take over national emergency services and air raid precautions activities, so as to obtain uniformity throughout the Commonwealth ?
– The matter of the hooding of motor car lights has been taken up by most of the States only within the last month, and we have made representations to certain States in this regard. From memory, I should say that Queensland is the last of the States to promulgate regulations enforcing the hooding of lights.
– Why leave it to the States?
– The honorable member knows that this is a matter of policy.
– Of “ passing the buck “.
– It is not a matter of “ passing the buck “. There is no confusion, and there exists the utmost cooperation between my department and all the State governments.
– I know that there is confusion.
– If the honorable member has that knowledge, he failed in his duty in not having made me aware of it a long time ago. The honorable member has asked why the Commonwealth does not undertake the entire job. The point is that the Government of which he was a member set up the organization which I am administering.
– But Japan is in the war now.
– Because the position has become so much more acute, and because action had to be taken quickly, it was decided that the Premier of each State should become the deputy of my department in his State. That was a decision of War Cabinet, and I propose to administer the department in that way until the policy is changed.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Development state whether it is a fact that Australian Consolidated Industries Limited has a virtual monopoly of the manufacture of hoods for motor car headlights? Is this monopoly due to patent rights, or to the company alone being able to get supplies of suitable material? Will the Minister have regulations issued to ensure that materials shall be properly distributed and that the right to manufacture shall be enjoyed by all qualified firms?
– I did not know that all supplies of material for the manufacture of headlight hoods were in the hands of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, but I shall make inquiries. I have always tried to spread orders and contracts over the widest field possible so as to offset the interruption to normal business caused by concentration of war production. I am not anxious to bring down fresh regulations to deal with these matters, believing that they should be attended to administratively if possible.
– In view of the Government’s proposal to forbid the manufacture of non-essential commodities, will the Minister for Labour and National Service make provision immediately to transfer indentured apprentices associated with those industries to other industries with their full status?
– This matter has not been overlooked, and I can assure the honorable member that action will be taken to protect apprentices in the circumstances to which he has referred.
– In view of the publicity given to the arrival of equipment in Australia from the United States of America, will the Minister for the Army say whether it is not a fact that large quantities of equipment are also coming from Great Britain, and will he say why no publicity has been given to that fact?
– I think that it is very unwise to give publicity to the arrival of equipment from either the United States of America or Great Britain.
– Or from other sources.
– Or from other sources, because such publicity would give the enemy some indication of the prospective time of arrival of ships, thus informing them where they might go hunting with their submarines. The Government is deeply appreciative of the assistance already given by Great Britain in the form of equipment and in other ways. We also deeply appreciate the generous assistance received from, and promises by, the great American democracy, which is working in complete cooperation with Great Britain and the other democracies.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the William Sydney Robinson who accompanied the Attorney-
General and Minister for External Affairs to the United States of America is properly described as “ one of Melbourne’s Collins House ‘ group, the -most powerfully reactionary political group in Australia. Collins House is head-quarters of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and the Baillieu group “. If that description is correct, will the Prime Minister say who recommended that Mr. Robinson be sent to America? Is it true that he is to handle the lease-lend arrangements between Australia and the United States of America?
– It is not true that Mr. Robinson is to handle the lease-lend arrangements between Australia and the United States of America. He was chosen by me to accompany the Minister to Washington because I considered that he would be invaluable to the Minister by assisting him to carry out the tremendously important work which is to be done there. As for his personal affairs, I have been informed that he is one of the leading investors of Australia, and that he is associated with very many important public companies. I had a consultation with Mr. Robinson, and I am quite satisfied that he’ realizes the necessities and difficulties of this country, and that, like Dr. Evatt, he will put his personal convenience and interests aside in order to serve the Commonwealth.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development able to make a statement regarding the proposed development of bauxite deposits of very high grade in various parts of Tasmania? Can he say, if, when and where the aluminium industry will be established?
– I believe it necessary to repeat what I said in regard to the power alcohol industry-: I do not think it would be wise to state publicly when or where these industries are to be established. Many problems, particularly some relating to equipment, have to be solved, and until they are solved no decision can be made as to when, where or how the industries are to bc =et up.
– I have received the following telegram from the Kyogle Recruiting Committee: -
Local people very anxious regarding press reports that members Australian Imperial Force who escaped Singapore treated as deserters. Would you please request Army Minister to give official statement on this position?
I have also been spoken to on this subject by many people in various parts of the country, and I should be glad if the Minister for the Army would make a statement regarding it.
– No official report has come to me that any members of the Australian Imperial Force are regarded as having deserted from Singapore, or Malaya, or any other theatre of war. I have already called for a report on the statement published in a section of the press to this effect. Being fully aware of the high degree of bravery and efficiency of members of the Australian Imperial Force, I feel sure that there is not a scintilla of truth in the statement.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development aware that many hotels throughout New South Wales have run out of supplies of beer for consumption by the workers? Will he take action to thwart the avaricious”ess of city interests by ensuring that some beer will be left for the workers when they knock off? In many instances, there is only whisky left for them now, and they cannot afford to buy that.
– The honorable member’s question raises the matter of the rationing of supplies in general. This is at present being considered very seriously by the Government with a view to ensuring that every one shall receive his proper share.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following passage in a report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 20th March : -
Mr. Casey’s affluence ; he comes of a wealthy family and his extensive mining mid pastoral interests - enabled him to provide a (iiia background to his work in Washington.
What salary and allowances were paid to the Minister in Washington? Did his work involve anything more than representing to the Government of the United States of America the views of the Commonwealth Government, with a proper regard to the common-sense of the immediate situation?
– I have not seen the newspaper report, but I shall have an answer prepared regarding the salary and allowances paid to the Minister. The instructions’ which are given to the Minister are a matter between the Government and himself.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that there is a considerable shortage of shearers and shearing hands, with the result that contractors are unable to obtain sufficient labour for the approaching season ? What action does he propose to take in order to ensure to this essential industry an adequate supply of labour?
– A shortage of labour exists in many industries, but I appreciate the merits of the case to which, the honorable member referred. If he will bring the details to my notice, I shall inform him of the steps that the department has taken for the purpose of assisting to overcome the difficulty.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Aylett had been discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely. “The operation of National Security (Mobilization of Services and
Property ) Regulations, Statutory Rules 1 942, N o. 77 “.
– I move -
Thatthe House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– It was open to the Opposition to move in the ordinary way for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77, but we have chosen the present course of submitting a formal motion for the adjournment of the House because our objections are not to the principles underlying the regulations, but rather to the method, by which the powers conferred by the regulations will be exercised. Never before in the history of the Commonwealth has such a comprehensive regulation been drafted. Never has any regulation conferred such plenary powers upon the Executive. The Opposition is mindful of the necessity for promulgating the regulations, because we are passing through extraordinary times, and peace-time conditions cannot and should not prevail. The Government is compelled to do many unpleasant things and has to act promptly, regardless of consequences, interests, or the value of property. We fully appreciate the position in which the Government may be placed at any moment, and we have no quarrel whatsoever with the principle of the regulations. I emphasize that. But we desire to bring to the notice of the Government certain powers which, under the regulations, could be abused, and which may be harmful to the general cause. I refer with particular emphasis to regulations 4 and 5. Regulation 4 provides that -
A Minister, or any person authorized by a Minister to give directions under these regulations, may direct any person resident in Australia -
to perform such services as are specified in the direction;
to perform such duties in relation to his trade business, calling or profession as are so specified;
to place his property, in accordance with the direction, at the disposal of the Commonwealth.
In other words, the Minister may delegate authority to an individual who then is enabled to compel any other individual to do whatever is required, consistent with the regulations. The Opposition contends that such power is too wide, especially when the authority maybe given orally. Where possible and practicable the power of delegation, and the power to demand duty should be given in writing. If in an emergency it is not possible or practicable immediately to give that authority in writing, the order should be given orally but should be confirmed in writing within a prescribed time. That is the sole objection ofthe Opposition to these regulations. I impress upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) the fact that the Opposition is desirous of extending its whole-hearted co-operation to the Government, but it is anxious to introduce a safeguard against possible abuse. So far as I can see, no valid reason exists why such authority should not be given in writing, either at the time the order is made, or within a prescribed period thereafter.
– Does that refer to the taking over of property?
– It refers to everything. The necessity for introducing a safeguard will be appreciated if honorable members study the very heavy penalties, including imprisonment,that are provided for neglect of duty, or disobedience of an order. There shouldbe no possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation of a demand; a written order should be the basis of the test as to whether an order has been disobeyed. My request is not unreasonable, in view of the nature of the penalties prescribed, and I ask the Prime Minister to accede to it.
– I hope that the Government will give the most serious consideration to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). During the last week, I have seen an example of the use, or rather misuse, of delegated power. Although I have conducted investigations in Melbourne and Sydney, I have not been able to discover the identity of the person who was responsible for the delegation. Last Friday week, the Director of War Organization of Industry in New South
Wales, Mr. Ifould, inspected for twenty minutes .the premises of a firm in my electorate, Fenton,. Heather and Pring Proprietary Limited, which employs 100 hands and has approximately 500 tons of machinery. Subsequently, within 24 hours, the firm received an instruction from the military authorities to quit the premises forthwith.
– That action was not taken under these regulations.
– I am dealing with the delegation of powers generally.
– The principle is the same.
– Yes. For that reason, I take this opportunity to expose this incident. When the firm inquired whether “forthwith” implied a week, a fortnight, or a month, the military replied that “ forthwith “ meant a matter of hours and that if the firm did not vacate the premises in that period, men would be sent to compel it to do so. Upon making investigations, I discovered that Mr. Ifould was behind this move. His principal qualifications, I remind the Mouse, are that he knows nothing about the trade union movement or business generally. He is a very truculent gentleman. When I asked him what he proposed to do with the employees, he replied that he would get jobs for them. Across Martin-place from the office in which I was seated, there was a Labour Bureau for women. I directed his attention to the Labour bureau and reminded him that 3,000 women registered there could not find employment.
The premises were to be transferred to Davies Shephard (Sydney) Proprietary Limited, whose factory was situated a few doors down the street. I soon discovered that a prominent figure in the negotiations was a gentleman named Hemmons, who informed the Board of Area Management, New South Wales, that he had authority to override it in the matter of this acquisition. Incidentally Mr. Hemmons, who is associated with the firm of Kent and Company, Melbourne, is financially interested in Davies Shephard (Sydney) Proprietary Limited. A remarkable thing about the delegation of power is that Mr. Hemmons could produce no authority for his actions, other than an insinuation that the
Director-General of Aircraft Production, Mr. Essington Lewis, had invested him with authority to override the decision of the Board of Area Management, New South Wales. The Secretary of the Department of Munitions in Melbourne, Mr. Jensen, in reply to my inquiry, stated that he knew nothing about Mr. Hemmons or about the delegation of authority to him. Mr. Jensen added that he had recently heard of certain matters, and intended to probe them.
At 4.30 p.m. I informed Mr. Ifould that the gentleman who came on this mysterious mission from Melbourne was financially interested in Davies Shephard (Sydney) Proprietary Limited, and within two hours instructions were issued by some one cancelling the order to quit. I should like to know where we are drifting. I completely exonerate the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) of any knowledge of the matter. After conferring with him I am certain that he knew nothing about the moves which were being made by his department, inferentially with his authority, although he had not given it. I also exonerate the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) who, I am satisfied, knew nothing about the business, because the Secretary of the Department of Munitions was not aware of it. But the matter should not have been allowed to rest there. Mr. Hemmons came from Melbourne apparently with no delegated authority to acquire the premises of Fenton, Heather and Pring Proprietary Limited, and he was financially interested in the transaction. To prevent a repetition of this occurrence, the Government should tighten up the regulations. Authority should be delegated by either the Minister or the secretary of the department to responsible persons for specific purposes. I was fortunate, it seems, to get this information. That the information is accurate was proved next day when Mr. Hemmons signed a sworn declaration admitting that be was financially interested in Davies and Shephard (Sydney) Proprietary Limited. Whilst I am satisfied that the Government is not responsible for the incident, we are not living in Gestapo Germany, and such things should notbe permitted to happen. I do not intend to argue the question of whether Ministers should have the right to take these steps, but I do say that, unless they tighten the regulations in order to prevent every Tom, Dick and Harry from using powers delegated to them by some one else, they, as responsible Ministers - responsible in the sense that they control the departments - will never be out of trouble because of the actions of those people. I hope that the Government will take into serious consideration the drastic powers that they are operating to-day, and ensure that in no circumstances shall those powers be operated for the seizure of a man’s property or anything else unless there is a definite delegation of power in writing from the Minister. If the Minister has given a written delegation of authority he will have to accept responsibility. There can be no possible way of keeping track on people who may not be entirely honest in business unless there is a definite restriction on the operation of the enormous powers granted by delegation.
– I support the objections to these regulations voiced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). It is well that the House should pay regard to what is being done under these regulations. I suppose that, in the history of parliamentary government, there has never been a greater surrender of power to the Executive than is achieved by them. Having regard to the emergency which faces Australia, we agree with their principle, but we are bound to point out how easily they could be abused. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has cited something which, whether it was done under these regulations or not, could be done under them. I direct attention to regulation 4 - ( 1 . ) A Minister, or any person authorized by a Minister to give directions under these Regulations, may direct any person resident in Australia -
Sub-regulation 2 indicates the directions which may be given by the person to whom the delegation is made either orally or in writing. The delegatee in turn can give an oral direction to an individual to do any of the things specified. In an ordered society, if an individual is called upon to do something and he refuses or fails to do it, he is involved in a penalty. The penalty in this case may be imprisonment. It is elementary thattheextent and content of hisobligation should be clearly defined. If an individual is called upon orally to do a certain thing, he has the primary right to say, “By what warrant do you call on me to do this?”. The first objection of the Leader of the Opposition is well taken. Any delegation of these plenary powers which, in other times, Parliament would in no circumstances surrender, should be given in writing so that it shall be known that the man who claims the exercise of the powers has the authority of the Minister. If an individual is called upon orally to do a certain thing, he may be prosecuted later for having failed to do it. Then interminable dispute may follow between the person who gave and the person who received the instructions as to what the duty was. One knows that after a discussion between individuals it is easy for them to part, each believing that the other understood what was meant, whereas in fact there was misunderstanding. I cannot conceive of many cases where directions or instructions could not be put in writing, but in an urgency there may be occasions when urgency will demand oral instructions; in such cases those oral instructions should be followed withina reasonable space of time, not more than 48 hours, by a written confirmation.
The Opposition has not adopted any captious approach to this matter. Indeed it would have been open to us to move for the disallowance of these regulations, but, as the House knows, disallowance would prevent the introduction of regulations similar in substance to those rejected, and that would be something which we do not desire to run the risk of doing. So we have adopted the proper attitude in a time of war. We approve of the principle, but point out what appear to be undeniable defects. Speaking for myself, and in no way giving the official view of the Opposition, I do not understand why the different subject-matters covered by these general powers could not be dealt with by specific regulations. I know that that would entail great detail, and I appreciate the urgency of the problems which confront the Government, hut, in view of the fact that these regulations represent the surrender of the larger portion of the powers of the Parliament 10 the Executive and to the delegates of Ministers, is it not unreasonable to suggest that these regulations be withdrawn and that the different subject-matters be covered by specific regulations? If the 1’rime Minister be not prepared to withdraw these regulations immediately and issue fresh regulations to deal with each specific subject covered by them, he should at least give consideration to the framing of new regulations while the present regulations stand, so that when the present regulations were withdrawn the others would become immediately operalive. It seems to me, for example, that if the Government wants to direct the labour of individuals that matter can well be dealt with by a specific regulation. If the Government desires to take control of the property of individuals, that matter can be dealt with by specific regulation. I notice, for example, that nothing is said in the present regulations about the payment of compensation to individuals. I assume, as any one would, that if the property of an individual were taken, the Government would do the fair thing by him. I do not raise that as an objection, but I point it out as an item which could be well dealt with in a specific regulation. When such plenary powers as these are taken by the Executive a tribunal, or preferably a board, should be set up to keep an eye on the exercise of the powers, and to prevent the delegation of vital powers to persons who do not represent the people and may not even be public servants. I urge upon the Prime Minister, first, that there shall be no delegation by a Minister to another person of any part of these powers unless that delegation is in writing, and, secondly, that every direction to every person pursuant to these delegations shall, except when circumstances render such a course impracticable, be given in writing and that, in all other cases, the oral direction shall be confirmed in writing within a short period.
– I do not think that any criticism which could be expressed by any honorable member would be sufficient condemnation of these regulations, which are an extreme exercise of the power delegated to the Executive by Parliament in the National Security Acts of 1939 and 1940. When, in 1940, we passed an amendment of the National Security Act which contained phrases which appear in these regulations, no one ever conceived that directions were to be given to individuals in the way in which these regulations authorize directions to be given. Every body could see that what was delegated to the Executive was power to make laws, which in their essence are rules for the guidance and conduct of people generally, not power enabling the Executive to make fish of one and flesh of another - to command one man to do a thing and leave another man free to do as he likes without any criterion of liability or non-liability except the will of the Executive. Under these regulations every person in this country holds his property and economic liberty, and, I suppose, civil liberty also, at the disposal of the government of the day, and not only it, but also every person to whom the government of the day chooses to delegate power. A man may be ordered to give up properties, or surrender economic liberty, and if the Government has the power to do things like that, the Government may compel him to give up his civil liberty. A nian whose expressions may be offensive to the Government may be forced to perform duties objectionable to him. He may bc ordered to perform services in a part of the Commonwealth other than where he customarily resides. All these things are open to the Executive under this power. The Government has the power to control every body. Yet the only people whose actions have been controlled are the workers. But for that fact, the Opposition would have moved for the disallowance of these regulations. The Opposition- is reconciled to the regulations by the fact of their use against the workers of this country, and not against any one else.
– Why does the honorable member himself not move for the disallowance of the regulations?
– Because I cannot get a seconder. If the honorable member will second my motion I shall give notice of motion for the disallowance of the regulations.
– If the honorable member wants to take a vote, I shall second his motion.
– Then, I shall put a motion for their disallowance on the notice-paper for to-morrow. The Prime Minister knows that my objection to these regulations is not only that they are to be used against the workers, but that they can be so used as to deprive any people of liberty and security, of everything that they possess.
At the last sittings of Parliament we had a demonstration of the power of the capitalist forces in this country to shape regulations as they like. The Government proposed regulations which would prevent people from dispossessing themselves of assets in such a way as to disable them from receiving a return above 4 per cent. The regulations were attacked by the Opposition, and as the result of an agreement between the Government and the Opposition they were amended so that they cannot be brought into operation untilboth Houses of Parliament concur in fixing the commencing date. That means that these regulations will never be brought into operation without the consent of both Houses of the Parliament. If the regulations really meant what they say the Opposition would not have worried about them at all. The fact is that they are much more sweeping and far-reaching than they seem to be. Under them a person’s property and civil and economic liberties may be taken away. If the regulations were taken seriously, the interests represented by the Opposition would not worry about them, because the Government could defy any attempt to alter them by saying, in effect : “ You are disposing of your assets contrary to the spirit of our desires. Therefore, we will compel you to hand them over to us”.Withthe regulations as they stand, it would be unnecessary for the Government to make any other regulations whatsoever. But every body knows that these provisions will not be exercised against the propertyowners of the country. The workers are the only people likely to be affected by them. If the regulations be exercised against some of the working people of the country they will ultimately come to be regarded as embodying general principles which may be exercised against any people who strike. If they be applied in respect of one strike they will come to be applied against all strikes. Apart from that aspect, the regulations seem to me to he the quintessence of the evil spirit embodied in the legislation under which they were made and to the passage of which some of us were strongly opposed. We objected to the legislation because its object was to give to the Government power to legislate - a power which belongs to Parliament. However, the power has been given to the Executive, or to those to whom it may delegate its authority - and I do not make any distinction between the act of the Executive and the act of those to whom the power is delegated - to do certain things to certain people, whilst certain other people who should be equally involved remain free. The Government may say to one person: “We shall take your property”,althoughitmayallow other people to remain in the free enjoyment of their property. To my mind, that is despotism. It is fascism naked and unashamed. The adoption of such measures are a disgrace to the country which adopts them. Any country that adopts such a system concurs in the worst acts of fascism and puts itself on a level with the countries that we are fighting. I concede that in a region in which we were actually fighting the Government would without any regulation have this power, and perhaps the same would be true in a region in which immediate invasion was anticipated. That, would be apart from any regulation or statute. But this regulation has no limitations as to territory, or conditions, or anything else. My objection to these regulations, is that they may be put into operation in any part of Australia against one man chosen at the arbitrary will of the Government, although other people may be left entirely untouched by them. In other words, one man. may be penalized and another may go free. An arbitrary rule of that description is not worthy of us. Moreover, it is antagonistic to the ideals for which we are fighting. Although in the United States of America there has been a refusal to adopt a law to abolish the right to strike, in Australia a Labour Government has issued regulations which give to the Executive, or to those to whom it may delegate the power, the .right to take away the civil and economic liberties of any person, and the power is being exercised only against the working man. For that reason, I strongly object to them.
– A few observations in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) may clear away considerable misunderstanding. In substance, the statements of the honorable member were, in many respects, quite correct. The responsibility for what happened, however, should not be placed with the Department for War Organization of Industry, but with the Department of Munitions. I therefore consider i t proper to make a brief statement to the House.
– -No officer of the Department of Munitions or of the Department of the Army appeared in the matter.
– It is important to have in mind the origin of the business. The Munitions Department had need to undertake an important project, and it had to ensure that sufficient factory capacity of a special kind, and sufficient individuals of the requisite skill, were available to provide specified equipment at the earliest date. The Ordnance Directorate despatched an officer named Hemmons to Sydney to investigate what added capacity would be required by Davies Shephard (Sydney) Proprietary Limited, which company had been selected as the co-ordinating contractor, in order to enable it satisfactorily to undertake this work. The official proceeded to Sydney, but he had no delegated authority. All he had was a power to investigate whether the company could properly undertake the work. The official, as I see it, exceeded his duty.
– Had his instructions been given to him in writing, he probably would not have exceeded them.
– I understand’ that Mr. Essington Lewis sent a telegram to the chairman of the Board of Area Management, Sir Phillip Goldfinch, in which a request was made that all facilities and help should be given to the official in connexion with the investigation. The telegram was misread. It was only intended by Mr. Essington Lewis as a request for help.
– How did Mr. Ifould come into the matter?
– I take it that Mr. Ifould was approached by Mr. Hemmons. There can he no doubt that Mr. Hemmons exceeded his duty. There was no delegation of authority to him. However, I am having all the facts submitted to me.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- The tabling of a motion such as that now under consideration recalls to my mind with much pleasure the fact that I opposed a.6 initio - as the lawyers say - the granting of these dictatorial powers. I confess, however, that when I opposed the bill, which then ran the gauntlet of the ordinary processes of the. two Houses of this Parliament, I had no idea that the time would ever come when, in a practical way, the exercise of the complete dictatorship, the complete fascism, would be, in fact, put into operation.
I notice that this regulation emanated from the Attorney-General’s Department, and that it bears the name of the Attorney-General. I can only assume that, in taking this power for himself, the honorable gentleman thought that it would be wisely exercised, because he is a wise man, temperately exercised because bc is a temperate men, and exercised with sound judgment because he has been a judge. The very fact that he is already beyond the seas in the early stages of the operation of the regulation affords a complete illustration of the danger of that line of argument. An Executive Council, which is necessary for the promulgation of a regulation, consists only of the Governor-General and two members at least of the Ministry. Therefore, in practice, these regulations not only are despotic in their nature, but also set up a group of despots, a group of dictators, who may invade life and personal liberty, and attack at their discretion property, either real or personal. For any Minister may with one other Minister and the Governor-General promulgate a regulation. The little explanation given by the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) just before dinner, served to illustrate the danger arising from the fact that this instruction, emanating from the Minister, may be given either orally or in writing. The Minister told us that evidently the person who had been given authority in connexion with action under a similar regulation either exceeded his authority or acted without authority - a question that we are left to decide for ourselves.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has moved for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of calling attention to the dangers of these regulations. I must confess that his attack upon them was very mild, much more mild than myself would have liked to make it. I am sure that the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) did not mean to do me an injustice - he was looking across the chamber at the time - when he said that a motion for disallowance would not be assured of a seconder.
– The honorable member was silent when that remark was made.
– I say now, loudly enough for the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the world to hear me, that if it were my last act in public life, I would oppose these regulations on a vote of this House being taken, and whenever I had the opportunity to do so. I have never, in any set of circumstances, consented to the Executive being given the right to use such despotic powers; and when they are put in this concrete form - from which we must judge that the Executive intends to exercise these despotic powers - naturally I shall be heard in opposition to such a course. No warrant is required by this subordinate person to whom the
Minister gives authority. He may go into a place of business, he may go into a private house, and order a person to carry out his wishes ; to do a-thing which, on conscientious grounds, the person ordered may have the most ample excuses for not doing. I say nothing about the violation of property - I leave it to my honorable friends opposite to defend property. But these regulations permit an invasion of the homes of the working class ; they permit saying to this one, “ Come “, and to that one, “Go. You must not attempt to argue about it. I have authority. I do not produce it, and I do not remember the precise terms of it. It is only for me to tell you to do this, and you must do it “. There is nothing whatever in the whole gamut of what may be done in the dictatorship countries that we are fighting, which could not be done under these regulations. And there is an invitation to do it! It is the perfect expression of totalitarianism ! Any Minister of the Crown may exercise, in his own way and in his own time, the powers of a dictatorship for all practical purposes.
These are not the only regulations to which I object; there are others. Whenever I consider that they should be opposed, I shall oppose them. They have never been discussed at any meeting of the Labour party. They are absolutely foreign and hostile to the whole of the theory, origin, genesis, history and tradition of the Labour movement, and I find myself under no obligation whatever to violate, as I should, my pledge to my electors, by supporting such a proposition.
There are many ways in which these particular regulations could be so amended as to make them reasonable. The first and most obvious way is that the Minister of the Crown who takes responsibility for invading the home of, and enslaving, any person, shall at least put his name in plain terms to a plain and obvious direction, and that the person exercising his authority shall be known and named and shall bear his warrant in his hand when he ventures into the home or the place of business of another in order to enslave him and direct him in the way in which he shall go. I am opposed to the regulations, and shall support any motion for their disallowance.
– The regulations which are the subject of the motion for adjournment are contained in Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77. It will be recalled, I think, that somewhere about June, 1940, a Commonwealth Labour conference adopted a policy in which, shortly put, it said that, having regard to the state of the war and the necessity for a defence calling for major organization and maximum capacity, the whole of the resources of Australia - human, financial, and material - should be placed at the disposal of the Government for the urgent prosecution of the war and the defence of this country. That was the very short yet infinite compass of the programme which the conference laid down as being requisite for the kind of war in which the country was then engaged ; and that was before Japan had entered the war and this part, of the globe had become a theatre of intense and, indeed, ever-worsening conflict. Almost immediately after that conference had met, the then Government of the day brought down to Parliament a bill to amend the National Security Act. Parliament agreed to widen that act, by authorizing the Government to make regulations “ making provision requiring persons to place themselves, their services and their property, at the disposal of the Commonwealth, so far as it appeared necessary or expedient to do so in order to secure the public safety and defence of this country and its territories”. One limitation was imposed; it was a limitation that was sought by the then Opposition, members of which now sit on your right, Mr. Speaker. The limitation placed by Parliament upon the exercise of that power was that no such regulation should be made authorizing the imposition of any form of compulsory service beyond the limits of Australia. It is in pursuance of the purposes for which the statute was amended that Statutory Rule No. 77 has been drawn, namely, to enable the Commonwealth to use, for the prosecution of the war, the services and property of all persons and companies within Australia and its territories; in other words, to use the whole of the resources of this country, either human or material, as the Government may deem it proper to use them, in a state which can only be described as a state of emergency, in order that we shall not be too late and at the same time have too little of the country’s capacity organizied to meet the situation. It is perfectly true that this is a power which is capable of grave abuse. Authority given to a government in time of war can be well said to be authority that the Government could abuse. Authority which a government may use unnecessarily may be used in such a way as to do complete disservice in the carrying out of the object for which the power was conferred. That is perfectly true. What limitation can be placed upon that? The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that these regulations were drawn up by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who is now in the United States of America, but they were drawn* for, and on behalf of, the Minister of State for Defence Co-ordination, and they are administered by that Minister. No delegations have been made under this regulation except such as have been personally signed by me. it is not true to say that the regulation has been used without the Minister responsible for it having signed it with his own hand, or without perfectly clear evidence that it was a written delegation. The only persons to whom this delegation lias been given by me are the Deputy Crown Solicitors in certain States, and then only for the purpose specified in the delegation. There has been no general delegation.
– But the regulations do not say that.
– I know that honorable members are inclined to be afraid of tho wrath to come. We can all see what the consequences of an abuse of power may be, but nobody has yet been able to show that this Government has abused its power. It is true, of course, that the regulation is almost totalitarian in the authority it gives to the Government. For instance, we can order persons to perform such services as may bc prescribed.
– There is no provision for compensation.
– That is not provided for in the regulations, but it is provided for in the Constitution. The National Security Act, and the regulations under it, are themselves subject to the Constitution.
– The Constitution does not cover all contingencies.
– It covers this matter of compensation.
– That is right. The regulations cannot give more power than the Parliament possesses.
– The regulations cannot give more power to the Government than the Constitution has given to Parliament.
– What about sub-clause 3? Is that not a delegation of powerof the kind complained of?
– The action complained of was taken, as the Minister for Munitions has explained, in pursuance of the authority vested in him. He was not operating under Statutory Rule No. 77, but under another set of regulations. Either the telegram was mis-read, or it was somewhat roughly drafted, and it was, after all, a telegram. I have not issued any delegation by telegram; I have signed them all myself. I shall be glad if the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) will consult with the Minister for Munitions regarding the nature of the project in contemplation. He will then take into account the necessity for great secrecy, and he will appreciate the extreme urgency of the matter, and the severe limitations which exist mechanically in respect of carrying through this project which the Government desires to carry through. Therefore, just because it is not practicable for a government to give all the reasons publicly why it exerts a certain authority, it is not to be assumed that the Government has not adequate reasons for the course it is taking. I put it to the House and to the country that circumstances at this time are such that responsibility must rest somewhere to enable decisions to be taken promptly and adequately.
– Nobody denies that.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) does not contest the principle underlying the regulalations, but the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honor able member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) do contest it. I regard the authority vested in the Government by these regulations as in accordance with the charter which was given to the Labour party in order that it might leave nothing undone which would be a preparation for using the resources of this country in our defence against an invader who is already bashing our out-ports. If it may be said that a state of emergency exists in those places actually being assailed, and that martial law can be enforced there by military officers, then how can our maximum strength be used in such places where fighting is occurring if there is slackness or inaction or lack of discipline on the part of those who are for the moment distant from the actual place of hostilities, but upon whose labour, industry, and patriotism depends the capacity of the fighting men actually to fight?
I have given five delegations in this matter for purposes which I considered, as did the Ministers who were associated with me, called for immediate action on the part of the Government to ensure that there should be no shortage due to idleness, or to a refusal to observe what had been agreed upon. It is true that this regulation can be directed against the workers. As one who stands, I hope, for all that the workers regard as proper I say to them that the representative body of trade unionism in this country has declared that awards and conditions should be observed, and it asks the Government to observe them. The Government will observe them. The Government will not seek to fix wages, nor will it seek arbitrarily to fix conditions of labour. It leaves all that to the authorities set up for the purpose. No order will be given by the Government to any worker to work under conditions less favorable than those prescribed in the awards of the appropriate tribunals. The representatives of the trade unions have been in consultation with the Government on this matter, because trade unionism has an enormous responsibility in ensuring maximum production. Its leaders have given to the Government the most emphatic assurances of co-operation, and that co-operation has, indeed, been most effective. The country owes to them a very great deal for the way they have assisted the Government in the solving of a number ofproblems - problems not created by the demands of the workers, but inherent in the economic system and bequeathed to us from the past. I place on record here our recognition of the debt which this administration owes to the representative body of trade unionism for the help which it has given to us. As we have undertaken that the awards shall be observed, so we say that no man should make use of his bargaining capacity in a time of scarcity, even though he be a worker, to make his own interests paramount over the necessities of the country, and the obligation that rests on all of us to provide for thefighting forces the equipment which we know they need.
To honorable members opposite who have spoken about compensation arising out of directions given to property owners, I say again what I said a few weeks ago; that this Government, like any other Australian government, is the elect of the people of Australia, and is their representative. This is a fairdealing community, and the people would not tolerate a government or a Minister who ordered aprivate person to hand over his property without receiving an assurance of reasonable compensation. Machinery exists in the hiring branches to fix a fair rate of compensation for property which the Government hires or leases, and I have yet to discover a case in which the acquisition of property either by arbitration or under regulations, has been enforced by a Minister with injustice to the person whose property is acquired.
– They are just taking property now. and not telling the owners that they will receive any compensation.
– There are delays, of course.
– But no assurance is given that any compensation will ever be paid. They just tell the owner to get out.
– There are certain kinds of acquisition not covered by Statutory Rule No. 77. Authority is vested in certain sections of the armed forces, but that authority is exercised only under pressure of actual or imminent necessity. For in stance, it is sometimes necessary immediately to enlarge the area of a military camp in order to accommodate an increased number of troops. I agree that every oral instruction should be immediately followed by a written confirmation. It is as necessary for the Government to have this written confirmation on record as it is for the person to whom the direction is given. However, the point has not arisen because, as I have said, in the only instances in which a delegation of power has been made, I have myself signed the delegation. I am not going to have this regulation disallowed if I can avert it. It is an essential adjunct to the authority of the Government to enable it to deal promptly and adequately with what is, in fact, a state of national emergency, but we shall be answerable to the Parliament for the way in which we exercise this authority.
-Are these directions specific orgeneral?
– They are specific, and I cannot imagine that they could be other than specific, having regard to the nature of the regulations themselves.
– And a delegate cannot in turn delegate his authority to any one else?
– No. It is a specific delegation, and the delegation has been exercised only five times so far. In each case, I was the person who signed the delegation to a specific person for a specific purpose. There was no general delegation whatsoever. And that will be done in every instance. I shall issue to Ministers a direction that every oral instruction which they may cause to he given shall be followed immediately by written confirmation.
– That assurance is all that the Opposition desires.
– All right. That is the end of the matter.
– The speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has not been very reassuring to me. Honorable members have never been in doubt as to where I stand on the question of the Government, in time of war, having extraordinary powers, indeed, almost absolute powers. But there are, in these regulations, certain transgressions against good method, which render it desirable that they should be rejected. Then, if the Government still considers that it should possess certain powers, it should take them by means of amended regulations.
The Prime Minister stated that these regulations delegated to Ministers certain powers. That is not accurate. The regulations do not delegate powers to Ministers. They provide that the Minister of State for Defence Co-ordination (Mr. Curtin) may delegate powers to any unspecified individual whatsoever. Incidentally, those powers may be completely and absolutely unlimited. Possessing some knowledge of the functioning of government, I contend that any Minister acting on behalf of the Minister for Defence Co-ordination may delegate any of these powers.
– Under regulation No. 4, any Minister may exercise these powers.
– That is so. In proof of that, I have only to point out that the statutory rule itself is signed not by the Minister for Defence Coordination, but by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). If honorable members examine the National Security Act, they will discover that there are four things which cannot be done under that authority. The National Security Act cannot amend the Constitution, acquire property and land, extend the service of naval and military and Royal Australian Air Force personnel outside Australia, and subject people to trial by courtmartial. These regulations grant to an unknown and unnamed individual power to give any oral direction which he deems fit, and of which the Prime Minister might never hear. From the standpoint of the community nothing could be worse than that. Nothing that a court-martial could do, could be worse than the hardship and penalties that could be inflicted upon an individual under these regulations. In agreeing to second a motion for the disallowance of these regulations which, I understand, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) proposes to submit, I warn the Prime Minister that he must realize that with my signature goes my vote. I shall be interested to see r i<» i the House divide on this matter. The very essence of the National Security Act is the donation to Ministers of extraordinary powers, but these regulations go a step beyond that, by providing that Ministers may delegate unspecified powers to any individual whatsoever. I have no guarantee that only a Deputy Crown solicitor in a State will be the authority who will exercise this power. Of late, I have noted some rather extraordinary appointments, and the Lord only knows whether some of those appointees may be entrusted with the exercise of these extraordinary powers. I should be extremely unhappy to think that some persons, whom I. could name, will be entrusted by the Government with any responsibility, but I do not wish to enter into those particulars at the moment. Before long, I may be obliged to do so in a very definite way.
We must recognize that this power of delegation is most dangerous. I have been most interested to read in Hansard some of the speeches that the Prime Minister delivered when he sat in opposition ; it might be as well if the honorable gentleman also refreshed his memory by perusing them. Out of curiosity, I also read some of my own speeches, and I found that my attitude has been perfectly consistent. The object is to evolve a method under which the Government can conduct the war inside our territory while preserving to the people certain of their rights and liberties. I have said repeatedly that in certain circumstances involving combat within Australia, certain rights and liber-ties which we have enjoyed must go by the board. But that must occur in a general way, not to individuals but to classes. ‘ No man should be vested with authority orally to command Smith, Jones or Brown to perform certain acts. The story of the Centurion in the Scriptures should not have a local application : “ I say ‘ come ‘, and he cometh, and I say ‘ go ‘ and he goeth As the regulations stand at present, the person who issues the order is under no obligation even to put his instructions ., in writing. Still quoting the Scriptures, the Prime Minister might say that, “What the Lord hath given, the Lord may take away”. What perturbs me is what mightbe done under theseregulationsbefore a certainsetofcircumstancesarises, which willbe of such severityas to force itselfupon theattennotonlyoftheParliamentbutalso ofthecountryatlarge.Ibelieveinthe ruleoflaw.Ihavenolikingfor dictatorialmethodsingovernment.
– If honorable members opposite can point to one ofmy actions as a Minister which was not in accordance with the law of the land, Ishallrewardthemverysuitably. EverythingthatIdidwasinaccordance with the law, and most of it was statute law. In many instances, the law had come into effect years before the outbreak of war and certainly long before I became a member of this House. Whereas any suggestion of a charge of that description does not apply to me, it might apply to some honorable members opposite if theyweregiventheopportunitytoexercise certain powers.
Atthepresenttime,wehavearight toexpectasenseofresponsibilityonthe partofthe Executive towards the Parliament. Every honorable member is responsible to his constituents, and some constituents ask awkward ‘questions. The Executive should be responsible to this Parliament;butthereisanunfortunate tendencyon the partof Ministers tosurround themselveswith too many assistants and committees. When I was a Minister, it was my practice to do the job myself. That is thebestmethod. I didnot want tobe surrounded by acrowd of assistants, becausemost ofmy time would have been occupiedin keeping track of them instead of attending to my administrative duties. I have a strong suspicion that Ministers spend toomuch time in looking after theirbatmen and various committees, instead of reaching decisions in their departments. Afterall, theseregulations have onlyone purpose, namely, to absolve Ministers of State fromthe responsibility of making decisionsthemselves.Thereisnoother reason for delegating authority. If it isto be a purely administrative act, every Minister controls a department; the departments are in being; they are functioning; andthey can execute any instructionsthatthe Minister issues to them. [Extensionoftimegranted.] The Prime Minister raised the matter of theestablishmentandtheextensionof martiallawinAustralia.
– Idid not raisethat subject, but I dealt with it.
-What- evermaybesaidabout martial law, I regard it as one of the most just systems of trialin existence. The prosecutoris obliged to putthe case, as he knows it, both for and against the accused.That system does notprevailinthe civil courts, where a prosecutor puts the side of the case that detrimentallyaffects the accused. A judge-advocate in a court martial would not dare to present only one side of the case. If martial law be introduced in Australia, it will not give effect to these regulations. Martial law is conducted in accordance with wellknown principles. Before he is charged the accusedknowsthatacertainact constitutes a breach of military regulations and is therefore a crime. He also knows the penalty and he can ascertain, if he so wishes, the methods under whichhe will be tried. But under these regulations, the Lord alone knows what oral instruction mightbe given, in certain circumstances.
Mr.Curtin. - No punishment maybe inflictedunder these regulations except as the result of a conviction by a court. The penaltiesare prescribed in the act.
-That makesthe position evenmore strange. If theGovernment introduces a system underwhich men may be tried and convicted under civil law because they fail toobeyanoral instruction, the Prune Minister will have a very rosytime indeed. Of the two, itwouldbe far better forhim to allow rate to attendthe next caucus meeting, than to look forward to a few trials of that description.
.The Prime Minister (Mr.Curtin), in his attempt to justify Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77,hasnotproperly interpreted the decisionofthe LabourConference in 1940. Thehonorable gentleman played avery important part in framingthe policy of thatconference, as he has done in framing the policy determined by Labour conferences during the last twenty years. But he was not theonly member of this Parliament who was a delegate at the conference. The honorable member forBourke (Mr. Blackburn.), the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), the Minister for’ Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron, and I also were present as delegates. No argument such as the Prime Minister has used this evening was. even adumbrated at that conference in support of any regulations such as we are now discussing. The resolution of conference that the Prime Minister has quoted is most laudable. It said that the whole of the resources of Australia, human and material, should be at the disposal of the Government. Nobody in the Labour movement disagrees with that policy. The Prime Minister, in giving effectto that resolution in the form of the regulations, has gone further that our political opponents would ever have dared to go. If, immediately after the conference had ended, the then Prime Minister had interpreted that resolution, as. the Prime Minister interprets it now, and had. brought down regulations similar to those embodied in Statutory Rule No. 77, I hazard the opinion that the Parliamentary Labour party, then in Opposition, would have unanimously opposed’ the regulations and the main speech in opposition would have been delivered in most eloquent terms by the then Leader of the Opposition and present Prime Minister.
-Atthe time of that conference there was no war in the Pacific, and Australian territories were not being assailed by the enemy. The. defence of Australia has to be in degree much more intimate, and there is a graver responsibility now for the use of the platform and resolution than was the case even six months ago.
Mr.CALWELL.- I agree that the war situation to-day is more terrible than it was then, but what I say would have happened in 1940 is, Ibelieve true. We shouldhave opposed it then, and, therefore, we must oppose it now. I rememberthe circumstances of that conference verywell.Therewasalot ofdespondency about because of the collapseofFrance. If the Prime Ministerthinksthatheisinterpreting the wishes of the Labour movement correctly, he should, before he puts regulations of this sort into effect, take steps to summon another Labour conference and learn whether the Labour conference would agree with them or their spirit.
Mr.Curtin. - I do not propose to entrust the government of this country to amy body outside? this Parliament.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– If it were not for the organized Labour movement, nobody in this Parliament sitting behind the Government, and including the Prime Minister himself, would be in this Parliament.
– No Labour movement ever expected that there would be a substitution of itself for the lawful government of the country.
– The Labourmovement has the right to be consulted by even the Labour Government,when it comestoaquestion of interpretation of policy,particularly when there is, I suggest again, unanimous opposition in the organized Labour movement to these regulations. No Labour conference, industrialor political, in any portion of Australia to-day would approve ofthese regulations, not one of them,and,that being so, I suggest that it is the duty of Labour members of Parliament to carryout the wishes and desiresof the movement and not to do something which, if it is not abused to-day can be abused to-morrow. We are deliveringourselvesintothehandsof thePhilistines.Themarch of timewill see other governments and other Ministers, and what ground will the Labour movement have to stand upon if anothergovernmentcomesalonganddoes abuse the power of these regulations? Criticism will be brushed aside with the remarkthataLabourgovernmentgave effect to the regulations and that at the time they were made Labour members were silent and raised no objection.
– How does the honorable member expect to usethe material and human resources of this country to defend it unless the Government is so authorized to use those resources?
– I do not think that a government shouldbe authorized in the way thatthese regulations authorize this Governmenttoact.Inanycase,itwas contemplated that government should be by legislation rather than by regulation. Regulatory power is necessary in time of war, but government by regulation should not be the normal and usual form of government, and legislation only a memory. If this Parliament met almost continuously and regularly, more regularly than it does now, there would be ample opportunity for Parliament to have more supervision than it has. I remind honorable members that whilst we do not meet so very often, in 1941 the Congress of the United States of America, which was also concerned with war, perhaps a little less than we were, met for eleven and a half months out of twelve ; it remained in continuous session. I know that it is a bigger Parliament and that there are many reasons why, under the system of government of the United States of America things are possible in that country that are not possible here. I do not suggest that Ministers do not meet Parliament because they want to have an easy life. I know how overworked they are and how onerous are their responsibilities and duties, but, if Parliament met more frequently and we had a joint standing committee on regulations, which could review them, and, if we had some checks and balances upon the exercise of executive power, we should not be so fearful of the possibilities of these regulations. When we were in opposition, we opposed Statutory Rule No. 42a, which denied the rights of the community to criticize the financial policy of the then government. That statutory rule was the very breath of freedom alongside these regulations, but we disallowed it, and the then government substituted something that was less objectionable. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition has decided, after the Prime Minister has agreed to a slight modification of them, to withdraw any opposition to these regulations, makes me the more suspicious of them. His generous gesture towards the Government does not recommend the regulations to me.
The Prime Minister has admitted that the regulations are almost totalitarian in their effect. I like that word “ almost”. The regulations are, in effect, so totalitarian that it is hard to conceive of anything more dictatorial. Any Minister can do anything and can delegate his powers either by word of mouth or in writing. The Prime Minister should have another look at the regulations in view of the just, reasonable and honest criticism that has been offered by men on this side of the House who have spent a lifetime defending the liberty of the people and fighting against the misuse of power, hating dictatorships, Gestapos and the like in all circumstances and at all times. I have not to go back very far in my lifetime to recollect meetings, which I attended, called under the auspices of the Labour party, to protest against some misuse of power by some government here or abroad. It is intolerable that we should be asked as Labour members, to give to any executive these powers, because once we give them to one government, they will stand for all. The Labour Government exists by the votes of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson). No one can be certain just how long they intend to support this Government, and if they at any time decided to change their allegiance and we became the Opposition, I shudder to think of what might happen to trade unionism and trade unionists in this country when some of our political opponents got their itchy hands on Statutory Rule No. 77.
– It has been made clear that far from finding fault the Opposition endorses the principle embodied in these regulations. Many speeches have been made from this side of the House advocating the total organization of this country for war, and these regulations place in the hands of the Government the total authority that should be required for such organization. It seems to me to be a very proper authority which any government should have at its disposal during a period of crisis. But these are a part of a long series of regulations. All the other regulations have been drafted, as occasion required, to deal with special needs. Regulations have been made to deal with man-power, property, banking, and a multitude of different things. Each of those seta of regulations has embodied within it an explanation of why the power is taken, and by whom it is to be exercised, and there has been always a cover to protect individual rights and interests or property rights. But Statutory Rule No. 77 seems to be a blanket covering all existing regulations, because I would construe it as empowering the Government to do anything that it can do under any existing regulations as well as anything not covered by existing regulations. In that sense it appears to me to be something drafted as a reserve for use in time of urgent emergency. In any time short of urgent emergency, it is withinthe ability of the Government to draft an explicit regulation - it can be done in a few hours - to be administered by the appropriate Ministers. But in the next few weeks, there may be fighting in Australia and then things may have to be done for the safety of the country which will not brook even a few hours of delay. These regulations seem to he necessary to deal with such a position as that. Nevertheless, no matter how dire the emergency, or how great the need for action, it is the wish of the Government and of the Opposition and of all Australians that when a person is directed to perform an act he shall be reasonably protected in the performance of that act. His civil rights, his monetary rights, and his property, if they are to be disturbed, should be protected if practicable and, if possible, he should be compensated. Whilst the regulations empower the Government quite properly to compel all these things, they do not carry within them protection of those rights. The Prime Minister has said that the Constitution overrides anything. The Constitution contains one provision which lays down that theCommonwealth in acquiring property must pay just compensation, and insofar as these regulations may be used to acquire property, the Constitution does override them and protects individuals. These regulations may be exercised to direct a man to destroy his own property, because Ministers have declared that, if war comes within Australia, thepolicy of scorched earth shall be applied.
– That is entirely a matter for military decision, not for civil decision. Surely that is common sense.
– I am rather sorry to hear that statement, for, whilst I agree that the military authorities, in any theatre of war operations, should have power to destroy property or to direct its destruction, I think that, in practice, such decision should, wherever time permits, be made by the civil authorities.
– That is so. The regulations may he used for that purpose. The military authorities may direct that certain property be destroyed or they may direct certain civilians to destroy property.
– The constitutional provision for compensation relates only to the acquisition of property.
-The Prime Minister has given us a clear picture of one manner in which these regulations may be invoked. I fail to see how such oral direction could always be followed by written instructions. In a state of emergency, the regulations could be used for the purpose of directing a man to burn down his own home or shop, or of directing skilled tradesmen to do labouring work on wharfs. Civilian exmembers of rifle clubs might be ordered into a defence unit without the formality of enlistment. These and a thousand other things may be done under the regulations.For these reasons, I believe that the regulations should include a provision that, so far as possible, compensation shall be provided for persons who suffer because of what may befall them or their property through the exercise of these powers.
– We have a war damage insurance commission at work.
– That applies only to property.
– Is that not what the honorable member has in mind ?
– I am speaking of a good deal more than property. I referred to civilian ex-members of rifle clubs who might be ordered into defence units, and to skilled tradesmen who might be required to work on wharfs as examples of what might happen under these regulations. Such men may be wounded or killed in these activities, hut, not being members of the defence forces, they would not be covered by the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act. It seems to me, therefore, that the taking of this authority by the Government should be accompanied by the issue of provisions to cover all cases of the kind of which I have given but a few examples. The Prime Minister ha3 said we all believe in complete good faith, that this Government is a fair Government answerable to a fair people, and that it may bc relied upon to deal fairly with the various situations which arise. No one doubts that. But, as I cannot see how it will be possible in some situations to follow oral instructions by explicit written confirmation, I see that many civil law actions may arise. Members of the House who are legal practitioners will also find it easy to visualize such possibilities in respect of persons who, upon authority delegated orally, demolish property or do other acts under these regulations. I visualize an endless vista of such possibilities. I therefore put it to the Prime Minister that everything possible should be done to ensure that oral instruction shall be followed by written confirmation. I urge that efforts be made to devise a formula for incorporation in these regulations which will give as complete protection as possible to persons who may be involved iti the actions taken under the regulations. I have visualized a few circumstances which may arise. I have no doubt that tens of thousands of illustrations could be imagined. To as great a degree as possible, people should be covered in respect of all these matters.
– I voice my unbounded and wholehearted support of these regulations. Australia, at present, is at what may be called the “ eleventh hour “. These regulations are long overdue. They should have been issued two years ago. Had that been done, there would have been no need for the numerous sheafs of regulations which the Government is now obliged to issue in its endeavour to bring into effect the straight-line war organization which the country must have if it is to survive. Let us face the facts. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) suggested that a great deal of litigation might follow the putting into effect of these regulations. If, subsequently, we are in a position to hold courts of inquiry into the effect of these regulations, we shall have reason to be thankful. In the last three months, the tide of war has turned directly towards Australia. Allied1 armies have been overwhelmed. At present, the enemy is within a few hundred miles of our shores and bombs have been dropped 170 miles inside our coastline. The enemy has also been able to establish two bridgeheads within jumping-off distance of our coasts. In spite of all these circumstances, some honorable members seem to think that there is still time for us to debate our personal and property rights. The only way in which Australia can live up to the obligations which it now owes to the United States of America, which has conscripted men to serve in this country, is by entering into the war without restraint. From now onward, every person in the community must implicitly trust the Government. We must use the whole of our human and material resources if we are to be saved in our extremity. This is not a time of emergency. It is a time of extremity. The enemy, we all know now, is enormously powerful. Only by throwing in every atom of our strength shall we be able to survive through 1942. If. by the end of the year, through the help of God and the assistance of our Allies, we are in a position to institute lawsuits against the Crown in respect of the use of our property, we shall count ourselves fortunate; but I cannot conceive of any one wishing to do so. I congratulate thiGovernment upon having had the courage to introduce these regulations, and I hope that the Parliament will indicate its emphatic endorsement of them.
– I agree with some other honorable gentlemen who have expressed th? opinion that the terms of these regulations are unnecessarily wide and that any oral instructions which may be given in order to apply the regulations should be supplemented, whenever possible, by written confirmation. When some people are given a measure of authority they are apt to use it to the full. Certain people who are authorized to use general powers are liable to overrun their authority. 7 consider, therefore, that these regulations might reasonably be amended to provide that oral instructions shall be confirmed in writing, and that there shall be some provision for a court of appeal to persons who may feel aggrieved. I read a few days ago that a somewhat similar situation arose in the time of Charles I. and Cromwell. Views somewhat similar to those I am enunciating were, in fact, voiced as far back as 1647. Cromwell and Ireton had sent a Cornet Joyce to take Charles I. away from the house where he had been living as a captive. [ quote the following passage from Charles I. and Cromwell, by G. M. Young- “ And now Mr. Joyce “, said the King, “tell mc where your commission is? Have you anything in writing from Sir Thomas Fairfax?” Joyce hesitated, and Charles persisted. “ Pray you deal ingenuously with. me. Where is your commission?” Joyce had an inspiration. “Here”, he said, pointing to the troopers. The King ran his eye along the ranks, and turned to the Cornet with the smile which so often served him well. “ Indeed, it is one that I can read without spelling: as handsome and proper a company of gentlemen as 1 have seen this many a day “.
Even in those days there was request for a written authority. Joyce, we realize, had with him 500 Buffcoats, troopers in some kind of a uniform, but these regulations may be put into operation by a person, or a company of persons, in mufti. There may be nil evidence whatsoever available at the- moment of the authority of persons to do the things that they propose to do. En my view it is not necessary that such wide powers should be placed in the hands of persons to do the things envisaged by the regulations.
.- A study of these regulations quickly reveals that they are drafted in the widest possible language. This, of course, must give rise to some uneasiness. The powers, as the Prime Minister has stated, could bc abused by a Minister, or a person delegated by him to use them, if there was any desire to indulge in such abuse. But the emergency in which we find ourselves is such, in my opinion, that we have to weigh whatever chances there may be of any abuse of the powers against the greater dangers that may befall the people if the Government has not the requisite power to do rapidly whatever may need to be done in an emergency. Although some honorable members on this side of the chamber may have desired to move for the disallowance of these regulations, they are ready to accept the assurance of the Prime Minister that there will be a discreet use of the power, that its application will be confined to specific matters, that any oral instructions given under the regulations will be confirmed in writing, and that the administration of the regulations will be confined to the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of Defence Co-ordination. For these reasons I feel it incumbent upon me to support the Government. “We are facing a grave crisis and I say to the Prime Minister that we want strength and decisive action on the part of the Government. Personally, I am more afraid that there will be nervousness on the part of the responsible Minister in the application of these regulations, than that there will be any undue use of them. I sincerely hope that the Government will use these regulations wisely. The Prime Minister has said that they are almost totalitarian in character. What is wrong with the totalitarian method of waging war? It has been- most effective to date. If we are to wage this war with the whole of our resources, we shall have to do some of those things which the totalitarian powers have demonstrated count in the winning of battles and wars. We must organize our total resources with all the means at our command.
These regulations give to the Government authority to do everything that it feels called upon to do in the defence of this country. The only weak point in them is the possibility of their abuse. I accept the assurance of the Prime Minister that he wall safeguard that point. I am confident that if there were any abuse, Parliament would see that it was rectified. We have to take chances. We are taking very grave chances to-day. At the very least, we must trust the Government to do the right thing by this country and its people.
.- The arguments advanced by members of the Opposition in support of these regulations might very well, from the standpoint of the workers, be accounted as urgent and important reasons for their withdrawal. Some of their statements I regard as warranting the closest examination and the utmost suspicion. For example, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has said that under a system of martial law the prosecutor puts both sides of the case. The prosecutor in Germany puts both sides of the case. If that is the kind of martial law which the honorable member for. Barker envisages in this country, the sooner he is out of this Parliament the better it will be for the great mass of the people of this country. I want to make it quite clear that this regulation embodies the very things which Labour has opposed over a long period of years. I believe that I speak with the approval of all honorable members on this side when 1 express the utmost trust and confidence in the Prime Minister. At the same time, however, such powers as these might fall into bad hands. We cannot calculate what might happen in the future. Even as they stand, although the Prime Minister has said that only five delegations have been made by him under his personal hand in respect of specific matters which have already arisen, the objection is not to what has already been done but to what might be done under them. Regulation 4 provides that a Minister or any person authorized by a Minister may do certain things.
– I am the Minister administering the regulations.
– The honorable gentleman and other Ministers may be well intentioned; but, unfortunately for our Government, there are persons in responsible administrative posts in this country who are not so sympathetic to the workers as they should be when an interpretation is sought from them a.* to the degree to which the regulations should be invoked. Some consideration might very well be given not only to the making of specific delegations by the Prime Minister, but also to their being made to specified persons and to the careful selection of such persons. I should like to see some limitation placed on the period during which these regulations shall be valid and effective. If the period were limited to, say, six months, it would be competent for the Government, at the end of that period, to gazette them anew, in the same or in a more up-to-date form. The rankandfile members who sit behind the Prime Minister and the Government would thus be enabled to challenge any provision which might be objectionable at that time.
The Prime Minister has mentioned that he will not accept the dictatorship of the organized Labour movement. I remind him and all other members who sit on this side of the House that the organized Labour movement consists, in fact, of the workers and voters of this great Commonwealth of Australia.
– A portion of them.
– The majority, I beg to state.
– I suppose that the Prime Minister had something to do with them before the honorable member was born.
– Such specious observations by the Leader of the Opposition do not bring credit either to him or to his side of the House. This regulation is approved by ministerial members because the present Prime Minister is a man in whom not only they but also all other Australians have the utmost trust and confidence.
Debate interrupted linder Standing Order 257b.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Pollard be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Rural Industries, and that the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Clark be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Profits, and that the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
– I move - [Excise Tariff Amendment No. 6.]
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 March 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1942/19420325_reps_16_170/>.