16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Bates in Defence Services - Publication of Confidential Cabinet Documents.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The Sydney Morning Herald has to-day published the following paragraph in its report of the debate that took place last night on the motion of the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) for the disallowance of National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations made by Statutory Bales 1942, No. 146:-
There were angry protests from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) and the former Minister for Labour (Mr. Holt) when Mr. Ward sought to read a Cabinet Minute, which, he said, had been prepared by Mr. Holt for submission to the previous Government, and advocated that in no circumstances should women receive equal wages with men.
I did not hear the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) say last night that I had advocated that in no circumstances should women receive equal wages with men. He may have said it; in which case it was, of course, a deliberate, and certainly a definite, misstatement. If he did not make it, the newspaper has misinterpreted what he said. I wish to make it quite clear that not at any time have I made the statement that in no circumstances should women receive equal wages with men. I took a point of order last night when the Minister endeavoured to read from a Cabinet submission which had been prepared by me, on the ground that it was grossly improper that a confidential document submitted to Cabinet by a Minister of the Crown should be made public by his successor. I have no objection to the whole of the submissionbeing read in this House, and my views being made publicly known. Although I shall have an opportunity later to-day to express my views inmore general terms, I now repeat that I have never advocated that in no. circumstances should women receive equal wages with men.
-I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has said that I deliberately misstated his submission to Cabinet as Minister for Labour and National Service, and that he now has no objection to my quoting’ that submission.
– Quote the full submission. Do not merely take passages from it.
Mr.WARD. - If the honorable member wishes to waste the time of the House by quoting a lot of irrelevant matter, he may do so.
– I cannot expect the honorable gentleman to quote it fairly.
– I shall quote only sufficient to indicate that I had every justification for saying that the honorable member was of the opinion that in no circumstances should women receive equal wages with men. On the first page of the submission that he made to his Cabinet, he made the following statement: -
The claim should be considered, therefore, in the light of the following practical considerations : - .
With regard to (a), even if single men’s rates for women were approved (which I do not suggest) it would be wise for the Government not to admit that it had adopted the principle of equal pay for equal work.
Concluding his submissions to Cabinet, the honorable member said -
It may also help to divert the activities of women’s, organizations interested in this question from misguided but embarrassing propaganda in favour of equal pay for equal work.
I leave it to honorable members to decide whether or not those sentences prove my point, that never at any time has the honorable member claimed that women should receive equal wages with men for equal work.
– Will the Minister for Munitions state what percentage of the male base rates is being paid to females at present engaged in government aircraft factories, and what percentage of the rates paid to males in the Navy is being paid to females in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service ?
– Aircraft production i3 not under the jurisdiction of the department controlled by me, but I shall obtain the information sought by the honorable gentleman with regard to female wage rates in the Department of Munitions and in the Department of the Navy.
– Can the Minister for Air say what ratio the payment to members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force bears to the base rate paid to male members of the Royal Australian Air Force?
– I understand that the percentage varies according to the mustering. The final rate is now under consideration, and will be decided shortly. As I understand the situation, the ratio between rates paid to male and female members of the Air Force is not the same in all cases, hut investigations are now proceeding with a view to placing these matters on a basis which will give general satisfaction.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether it is a fact that the living-out allowance for members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force has been reduced, and also whether the rate of pay to minors in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force has been reduced, notwithstanding that before such reduction it was only two-thirds of the rate paid to men in the same mustering? Further, is the Minister aware that, concurrently with the reduction of the rate paid to minors in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, women minors employed in the Lithgow munitions works are being paid the basic rate applicable?
– A uniform rate was fixed for women attached to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, the rate being the same as that proposed in an agenda prepared by the last Government. The matter is now being considered with a view to having defects, if any, remedied.
I do not know what rates are paid to women in munitions factories. I find that my own job occupies all my time, and I have no leisure to devote to the work of other Ministers. As to the other points raised by the honorable member, I shall have an investigation made, and he may rest assured that the Government will do what is right in the circumstances.
– Can the Minister assisting the Minister for Munitions say whether it is a fact that, in aircraft factories, a base rate of 60 per cent, has been fixed for females, and can he say what rate is now being paid in the government-owned munitions factory tit Maribyrnong ?
– Women doing men’s work in munitions factories are receiving full male rates. They are operating the same machines as men previously did, and are doing the same work. I do not know what the position is in regard to women employed in aircraft factories, hut I shall find out and inform the honorable member later.
– I rise to a matter of privilege. The Minister for Labour and National Service has read in this House a submission made to Cabinet, under an oath of secrecy, by his predecessor in the office that he now holds. The honorable gentleman read only that portion of the document which suited his case.
– He did not prove his case.
– The point that I desire to have established is whether it is to be the practice of this Government to place before open Parliament confidential information given under an oath of secrecy, thus making it public not only to the Parliament, but also to the country. If this is to be the practice, will the Prime Minister consider the dangerous results that will arise from it?
– All that I can say is that- I regret this unfortunate episode, and I shall give every consideration to the matter now that it has .been raised.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In this morning’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the editor., Penton, has charged me with being a coward. Whether or not that is true will be tested when I go into action with the Royal Australian Air Force, in which I have enlisted as an air crew member. I invite Penton. who is so glib with accusations of cowardice against others, to join me in the fighting forces, where his own patriotism may be better demonstrated than under a masquerade of words.
I publicly charge Penton with running away from Australia in order to seek asylum in the United States of America at a time when he knows that Australia is about to enter upon its most difficult days, and when every man is- need for its defence. With regard to Penton’s personal reputation, I make no comment, beyond saying that among those who know him he has none.
– Will the Prime Minister, before granting a visa to a creature named Penton to enable him to leave Australia, ascertain what cables passed between that individual and certain persons in the United ‘States of America with regard to his proposed lecturing tour, in order to ascertain whether the offer of a lecturing tour was made to him. or whether he sought to obtain the four in order to evade his military responsibilities in this country? If it be ascertained that this man is trying to evade his responsibilities to Australia, and in view of the fact that he is in an age group that has not yet been called up, will the Prime Minister see that he is taken to his friend, Mr. Packer, of the Allied Works Council, not in order that he may be given an executive position in that organization, but so that he might become a human propeller on the business end of a shovel?
– It is quite obvious that this has become what could he welldescribed as a controversial matter. I have only my duty to discharge as a Minister of State. It is not for me to settle the personal fitness of this or any other man for military service. I have nothing to add to what I said last night. All that I know about the matter is that this man is at present, under the law of this country, not obliged to serve with the fighting forces. I did not make that decision ; it was made by the appropriate authorities. He is either in the Army or he is not in it. I do not have to decide that point. Then it is put to me that this gentleman had contributed a series of articles to American newspapers.
– It is a misuse of the English language to call him a gentleman.
– I was asked to look at the articles in order to satisfy myself as to the kind of advocacy that was taking place in other countries in respect of Australia’s position. Considering the effect that the articles would have on the minds of those who would read them in the United States of America, I regarded them, whoever wrote them, as serviceable to our cause. I have been a journalist. I do not think that it is of much importance how a man who writes an article looks; the important thing is what is in the article. Then it is represented to me that because the articles had a wide public in the United States of America, certain friends of Australia in that country were able to promote a lecturing tour for thi? gentleman.
– Did he not suggest ii himself 1
– I do not know. I am relating what has been represented to me.- This is not the first editor of a newspaper in Australia to whom I have been asked to give authority to leave this country for the purpose of doing work. I was informed that Sir Keith Murdoch wanted to go abroad, and I saw no reason to prohibit his going. Similarly I see no reason to prohibit any man who is the editor of a daily newspaper from going overseas for a special purpose of this nature, provided the military authorities do not object.
– The Government is not sponsoring this visit?
– No, but at the same time I see no reason why I should constitute myself a supreme court to determine whether an Australian citizen, invited to pay a visit to another country for a given purpose, should be prohibited from going. I do not regard Mr. Penton’s service in Australia as indispensable to this country in the present crisis. If he wishes to go away for three mouths, he can go, and,- at the same time, L see no reason why this Parliament should be made the cockpit of whatever controversies rage outside.
– He tells every body to go to the war, but he will not go himself.
– I am not concerned with this matter from the personal aspect, but I desire to know whether Mr. Penton wrote certain articles in the Sydney Daily Telegraph concerning a recent debate in this House, and whether the despatch outside Australia of copies of the newspaper containing those articles was prohibited by the authorities for the reason that such action might cause misunderstanding in the United States of America? If those are the facts, why should this man be allowed to say in America what was in his writings which were not permitted to be sent out of Australia?
– The censor prohibited the export of those articles because, in his judgment, they contained statements which should not be published outside Australia.
– Was the right honorable gentleman invited to read those articles?
– I am not a censor, and [ have no desire to usurp the functions of a censor. It will be a bad day for Australia when a Minister takes to himself the responsibility of saying what shall, and what shall not, be published, or what shall be said or not said. That is one thing. The other thing is that, as I understand the situation, the articles which were published in certain American newspapers led to a request that Mr. Penton should deliver lectures in the United States of America on the same subjects. Certain people in that country agreed to promote a tour, and I was asked whether I would allow the man to leave Australia. My answer to such a question is that any man who is not at present employed in the fighting services of this country .by those who control those forces, but is occupied in a civil occupation-
– ~Not being a reserved occupation.
– I see no reason why representative bodies in distant countries which say that they are friends of Australia should not invite a person to their country in order to engage in a lecturing tour.
– The right honorable gentleman is missing the latter part of my question, in which I asked whether this man should be permitted to talk in the United States of America what he was prohibited from sending away in written form.
– As put to me the purpose of the lecturing tour was not that Mr. Penton should talk things which were prohibited from being exported from Australia, but that he should talk the things which appeared in his articles published in the United States of America. I have this to say, and I make no bones about it: I have known all kinds of men in my lifetime as writers and publicists.
– But, never one worse than this fellow.
– I say emphatically that judgment of a. writer should be based on what he writes, not upon how long he stays away from Australia.
– I have no desire to harass the Prime Minister, but I ask him whether he has read the articles by Mr. Brian Penton which, in the opinion of the censor, were so dangerous to Australia’s war effort that an order was issued forbidding their transmission abroad? Did the Prime Minister note this statement in one of the articles -
Censor or no censor, these views are going to the United States of America.
Having regard to that statement, and also to the fact that the Daily Telegraph, over a period of several months, has repeatedly contravened censorship regulations, and that Mr. Penton who has frequently been taken into the confidence of Federal Ministers, has broken that confidence-
– Will the honorable member repeat that?
– I say that, in view of the fact that Mr. Penton has been frequently taken into the confidence of Federal Ministers and has broken that confidence, what guarantee has the Prime
Minister - if, in his desire to be scrupulously fair, he allows Mr. Penton to leave Australia - that Mr. Penton will not be in a position to communicate his views in America in such a way that they will discourage the giving of allied aid to Australia, and injure the prosecution of our common war aims?
– Am I to understand the honorable member’s question to imply that Ministers of State have entrusted confidences to Mr. Brian Penton, and that, those confidences have been abused? If that is to be regarded as an accusation against any Minister, I shall ask whatever Minister is concerned to make the position clear to me. The statement is news to me.
– I am referring to press conferences with Ministers when certain things were told to press representatives in confidence, and not for publication.
– I have not seen Mr. Penton at any conference. No confidence that I have imparted at such a conference has been broken by anybody. 1 think they know me well enough to understand that they would do it only once. So that I may make my own position clear, let me explain that, last week, I had a consultation with the editors of the morning and evening newspapers in Melbourne. On Monday last I had a similar consultation in Sydney, and Mr. Penton was not present. My purpose in holding these conferences was, not to influence what the- newspapers shall, in their own judgment, say, but to give them at least such facts as may prevent them from misstating the war position.
– That was done by the Prime Minister’s predecessors.
– It has been done by every Commonwealth Government since the outbreak of the war. As for the other questions which have been asked. I do not think that I can add to what I have already said.
– What about the statement that, censor or no censor, he would express his views in the United States of America?
– I read that article, and to me it conveyed this: There are special representatives in Australia of a great number of American newspapers. These correspondents are not allowed to cable what news they like, but we have no hold over them, and cannot make them stay in Australia. They will go back to the United States of America and there they will be free to write anything they like about this country, subject only to the censorship imposed by the Government of the United States.
– The Government cannot prevent the American correspondents from going back to their own country to do what they will, but it can at least prevent this fellow from going there.
– I do not think that he is so important as to justify the Government taking action to prevent him from going. If the Army authorities want him, they can have him to-morrow. As a citizen, and as the editor of one of the leading newspapers in Australia, he has been invited by a representative group of friends of Australia in the United States of America to visit that country. The honorable member and the House will bear with me when I say this : We have friends in the United States of America, many friends, and there are many organizations there anxious to assist Australia. So far as I know, the body which has invited Mr. Penton to go to the United States of America is a body of representative Americans. Was I to affront them by telling them that a man whose articles could be published in the press of the United States of America, and for whom I had no particular use here, should be denied the opportunity to pay a visit for three or four months to that country? That is the problem as I saw it. I am somewhat staggered that this Parliament should be made the forum for some of the statements that have been made. This is how T view the matter: Other men besides Mr. Penton have been invited to pay visits to other countries, ostensibly to be of service to Australia. Business men, manufacturers and newspaper editors have gone, and no Australian Government has ever raised any objection to their going on business which Ls not regarded as prejudicial to the conduct of the war.
– Did the Prime Minister supply this man with the usual letter !
– I have not ‘been asked for it. I have refused to sponsor this mission, but I have refused to prohibit i*.
– Has the Prime Minister read the article published by Dr. J. J. C. Bradfield, designer of the Sydney Harbour bridge, in the March issue of The Australian Quarterly, entitled “Restoring Australia’s Parched Lands “ ? Will the right honorable gentleman consider the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to consider not only this matter, but also postwar problems generally? Would not such a committee be of inestimable value?
– I regret that I have not had an opportunity to read the article written by Dr. Bradfield. Immediately the Cabinet enjoys a respite from the work of the Parliament subjects such as that mentioned by the honorable member will be fully reviewed. I am conscious that a proper parliamentary review is needed of certain economic adjustments which Australia, in the nature of things, must make. There should be a parliamentary review of certain large-scale works of national value which would contribute greatly to a more advantageous use than has hitherto been made of our national resources. The conservation and reticulation of water would be a most important feature of any plan of that description. Our communications and our transport system generally need overhaul, t have given some thought to this matter, and believe that there should first be a short general parliamentary discussion of the matter in its broad sweep. Then Cabinet would he able to allocate to special committees, for investigation, different features of the general problem, f believe that in that way all speculations and theories would be advanced to the stage when practical consideration could be given to the problems involved.
– As Chairman, I present the fourth interim report of the Joint Committee on Social Security.
Ordered to be printed.
Appointment of Sir HERBERT Gepp.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether Sir Herbert Gepp has been appointed to a position on a committee that is to deal with congestion on the waterfront? If so, what is the particular position to which he has been appointed, and what duties is he to perform ?
– I am unaware of the details of the appointment, hut know that congestion on the waterfront has for some time been causing concern to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Congestion has occurred particularly in the Port of Melbourne, where the facilities for unloading are not so extensive as they ought to be in order to meet the sudden demands that have been made upon that port. Many means have been adopted with a view to overcoming the difficulty. Naturally, the American authorities are worried at delay in the unloading of their vessels because of lack of sufficient facilities. The matter has been discussed at some length, with a view to speeding up the “turn round “ of the ships. Every hour that they can be kept at sea, ferrying equipment to Australia, is highly important. T believe that the Minister for Trade and Customs has in contemplation a programme designed to overcome the congestion. I shall obtain details from him, and place them before the House.
– In view of the appointment of Sir Herbert Gepp as chairman of a committee to relieve congestion on the Melbourne wharfs, and of the fact that Tasmania has several excellent ports, particularly that at Hobart, will the Minister for Commerce bring to the notice of Sir Herbert Gepp the facilities available in Tasmanian ports for relieving this congestion, in respect of both shipping space and storage?
– The point raised by the honorable member is important, and I shall have pleasure in bringing his observations to the notice of the Minister concerned.
– I rise to a personal explanation. Last night the Minister for Labour and National Service stated that shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited are held by either my wife or myself. Whilst I do not see any reason why honorable members should not hold shares in public companies, I wish to state that neither my wife nor I has ever held, or now holds, shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In fairness to both of us, the Minister should withdraw his allegation, in which ulterior motives were implied, and place the truth on record in Hansard.
– If the honorable member will peruse the report of the remarks that I made in the House last night, he will see that I stated nothing except that a person named Marr holds shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I mentioned a number of names, which I said were similar to those of members of this House. The honorable member has asked me to withdraw an allegation that I did not make; consequently, I am unable to comply with his request. All that I need say is that, in mentioning a number of names which are similar to those of members of this House, I scored a bull’s-eye in at least some instances.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether statements made by the Minister for Labour and National Service with regard to shareholdings and investment savings of Australian citizens in Australian companies indicate the attitude of the Government generally to this matter? Will the Prime Minister say whether any portion of the Government’s policy would suggest that it is a crime on the part of citizens to. invest their savings in developmental companies that employ Australian citizens ?
– The Government does not regard it as wrong for the citizens to invest their savings in public enterprises. It considers that that is a perfectly proper thing to do, but I see no earthly reason why, if a man invests money in a public company, he should be ashamed of it.
Supplies fob PRIMARY PRODUCERS.
– Is the Minister for Munitions aware that primary producers are now experiencing considerable difficulty in obtaining supplies of wire netting, galvanized iron, troughing, &c? Even though it is recognized that war requirements have first priority, is the Minister able to say what action, if any, is being taken to ensure that those engaged in essential production will be assured of reasonable supplies of the goods needed by them?
– For some time, the commodities referred to by the honorable member have been in short supply, and my department is greatly concerned about the ever-growing needs for defence purposes, and the difficulty it: meeting civil needs; but as far as possible the Government has endeavoured io make stocks of primary producers’ requisites available to them. I hope that an opportunity will be presented in the future for increasing the supplies available to meet civil needs. Wherever possible, the matter will be viewed most sympathetically.
– Is it a fact that more than 25 tons of galvanized iron required for the construction of a camp at Ballarat was transported to the camp site, and that 3£ tons was left in the railway yard at Ballarat for some considerable time, although such material was required by primary producers and others? If so, will he take steps to ensure that similar bungling does not occur in the future?
– I know that galvanized iron has been in short supply; but I am not aware whether the facts are as stated by the honorable member. I shall, however, have inquiries made and shall inform the honorable member of the result.
Prosecutions of Garage Proprietors
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development aware that garage proprietors have been prosecuted, and some of them fined sums up to £100, for breaches of the liquid fuel control regulations? Is the Minister also aware that the liquid fuel control authorities impose a second penalty by closing the garages of persons convicted, thus inflicting considerable hardship on the persons engaged in the industry?
– I know that since the introduction of petrol rationing, prosecutions for breaches of the regulations have occurred. Some of the’ prosecutions have been for the use of forged ration tickets and heavy penalties have been imposed by the courts. In some circumstances, the Liquid Fuel Control Boards in the respective States have withdrawn the licences of the re-sellers of petrol. I appreciate the point raised by the honorable member as to whether it is just to impose a double penalty, and I see the further point that, if the fines are to be paid, sources of income must be available to those who are affected. I regard the matter as worthy of further consideration, and I shall discuss it with the Commonwealth Fuel Control Board.
– Can the Minister for Commerce state whether the committee appointed .to inquire into the position regarding the sale of beef from the farm of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works at Werribee has completed its investigations? Did the committee consider the acquisition by the Commonwealth authorities of other cattle or beef, without issuing regulations? Is the Minister able to inform the House as to the present position?
– The whole matter is still the subject of investigation.
Motion (by Mr. CURTIN) agreed to : - That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
– - Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to a statement in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald that wheat-farmers at Griffith take strong exception to the proposal to pay only 3s. 6.1d. for last season’s wheat crop of 153,000,000 bushels? Can he say whether it is a fact, a3 stated at a meeting of farmers held at Griffith, that the original legislation provided that all wheat grown for sale on licensed areas must be delivered to the Wheat Board, and that a former Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) gave an assurance that if the wheat marketed from licensed areas exceeded the quota, the excess would be marketed when practicable and the proceeds paid to the growers ?
– I have not yet had time to read this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald, and therefore I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable gentleman. I assure him, however, that the interpretation he has quoted of the agreement made by a previous government, is not in accordance with the fact3. Some officers of my department were present at a meeting between the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) when Minister for Commerce, and representatives of wheat-growing organizations in Australia, at which it was agreed that the guaranteed price should be in respect of a crop of 140,000,000 bushels, and that, if the yield exceeded that quantity, the estimated amount of the guarantee, approximately ?27,000,000, would be spread over the total crop from registered areas. Actually 153,000,000 bushels has been received into the pool. From areas not registered or in excess of the registered acreage the yield was 1,500,000 bushels, which, compared with the total crop, is an almost insignificant quantity. The arrangement made by my predecessor was a definite agreement; this Government takes no responsibility for the terms of the agreement, but on assuming office I gave an undertaking to different organizations and to the country that the agreement would be honoured and not interfered with.
– Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement by Mr. Wise, Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia, appearing in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, in which that gentleman commented on the proposal to pay a guaranteed price of 4s. on the first 3,000 bushels from each farm for the next season’s harvest. The report stated -
Mr. Wise said today that the wheat plan was the “ simplest and surest “ way of rendering uneconomical the most economic wheatgrowers in Australia. “ In this category “, he said, “ came Western Australian wheatgrowers. Forty-one per cent, of the wheatfarmers in the State grow more than 3,000 bushels “.
I now ask the Minister whether, before making his final recommendation to Cabinet, he will take into account the point raised by Mr. Wise, and also the fact that wheat-growers in Western Australia have already been subjected to a 33-& ‘per cent, reduction of area; and will he say what price he proposes to pay for the whole of the crop sold in Western Australia ?
– As I mentioned in reply to an earlier question, I have not yet had an opportunity to peruse to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald. I shall, however, do so at the earliest opportunity in order to acquaint myself with the reported statement by Mr. Wise. I assure the honorable member that I am just as concerned’ for the welfare of the wheatgrowers of Western Australia as is the honorable member himself, and that any scheme which the present Government introduces to deal with the wheat industry will treat Western Australian farmers equitably. Unless I thought that any plan which might be put forward by the present Government, would be a decided improvement on the existing plan, I should not attempt to implement it, thereby making the position of the farmers of Australia worse than it now is.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Development been informed of the acute shortage of miners’ pit boots? These boots are similar to military boots with the exception that they are more heavily shod. The priority given to military supplies has caused a shortage of pit boots which is likely to lead to stoppages of work at Collie, Western Australia, and elsewhere, as miners cannot be expected to go to work without boots. Can he say what steps have beer taken to supply miners with these necessary boots?
– A few days ago, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) waited upon me in connexion with this matter.
– I approached the Minister in the matter some months ago.
– The Minister for Mines in Western Australia also wired me on the subject, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) ha? been most persistent in his advocacy of the need to make boots available to minors. This subject is receiving constant attention; I am not unmindful of the shortages of miners’ boots, and of the difficulties that arise from time to time. If honorable members who are interested in this matter, and have knowledge of the shortages, will bring the facts to my notice, I undertake to see that supplies are made available.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether the regulations which prohibit members of the Royal Air Force -from receiving cash gifts apply also to the Royal Australian Air Force? I ask this question because the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) is about to join the Royal Australian Air Force, and a wealthy patriot, such as Mr. W. J. Smith, might wish to give to him a cash donation if he brings down a plane - provided the honorable member is in it.
– A question on the same subject already appears on the notice-paper, but I have no desire to evade giving an answer to the honorable member’s question. The regulations in regard to gifts are being investigated at the present time. My understanding of them is that they apply to all members of the Royal Australian Air Force, and no differentiation will be made between the honorable member for Watson when he enters and other members of that force.
– ‘Can the Minister for Transport say whether any action is being taken to convert the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway from Broken Hill to Port Pirie to the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge for strategic purposes and in order to facilitate transport arrangements? If not, does he not, consider that immediate .action should be taken in that direction, with a view to providing quicker transport of persons and goods between the eastern and western portions of Australia?
– For security reasons, I am unable to answer the honorable member’s question.
Motion to Disallow Regulations. Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 1447) on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations under the National Security Act, made by Statutory Rules 1942, No. 14G, be disallowed.
.- The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) has moved for the disallowance of the regulations under Statutory Rule No. 146, the purpose of which is to set up a tribunal to fix wages and conditions for women employed in industry. The right honorable gentleman first suggested that the setting up of such a tribunal would be an interference with the normal functioning of the Arbitration Court; then he attacked the constitution of the tribunal in a manner which indicated, I think, that his desire was to attack the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) rather than the tribunal itself. The right honorable gentleman has seldom been heard to worse advantage than he was last night. He was most unconvincing, and did not even express the views of most honorable members on his own side of the House in the course of the cunningly conceived arguments which he advanced: He was horrified at the proposal to improve the method of computing women’s wages. He pointed out that, up to date, the Arbitration Court had, in computing women’s wages, worked on the basis of 54 per cent, of the male wage, and he apparently dreaded the thought that the Government proposed to increase that figure to 60 per cent, for the purposes of the special tribunal. One fact emerged clearly from his speech: He is a keen advocate of the employment of women in industry, but he is very anxious that female labour should be cheap labour.
The appointment of a special tribunal has become necessary because of the manpower difficulties facing the country at the present time, and because of the need to gear up the country’s war industries to greater output. A great many physically fit men are in the fighting forces. Many more must remain in the .primary industries, and, applying the lessons which we learned during the last war, we must, as far as possible, retain skilled male labour for war production. For those reasons, women have now been introduced into heavy industries through channels that were previously undreamt of by the trade union movement. The trade union movement has yielded a very important principle in acceding to this dilution of labour by females. They are now entering spheres of heavy industry in which their presence 50 years ago, both in this country and abroad, was the real cause of struggle in the trade union movement. The only reason why the trade union movement tolerates the intrusion of women into these industries to-day is the dire necessity imposed by war. Those who make profit out of war should not be enabled to make greater profit by exploiting female labour. The willingness of the trade union movement to make this concession, and the willingness of women to engage in occupations which previously they would not dream of undertaking, should not be exploited by the payment of low wages in order to increase the profits of those who control such industries. Whether women should receive male rates of pay for equal work has long been a bone of contention. The subject gives rise to arguments which evade the real issue. This tribunal has been set up in order to determine what wage should be paid to women in industry. The right honorable member for Kooyong claims that the tribunal will cut across the normal work of the Arbitration Court. I disagree with that view. Regulation 6, sub-regulation 1, provides -
Where an employer, because of a shortage or impending shortage of male labour, desires to employ females on work for which a rate of payment for male employees has been determined by any industrial award, order, determination or agreement and for which a rate of payment for female employees less than the rate for male employees has not been so determined, the employer or an organization to which he belongs shall, before the employer employs females on any such work at a rate of payment less than that so determined for mule employees, make an application to the board setting out fully the nature of the work on which it is desired to employ females.
That regulation is self-explanatory. It does not impinge in any degree upon the work or judgments of the Arbitration Court. It provides for the making of awards in industries in which female labour has not previously been employed, and for which, consequently, no female standard wage has been fixed by the Arbitration Court. In such cases, this tribunal will have the responsibility of fixing the female rates. I could understand the right honorable gentleman’s argument, if the purpose of the tribunal were really to interfere with the wage rates fixed by the Arbitration Court. However, these regulations definitely prescribe fiat the tribunal shall not interfere with the decisions of the court, but shall supplement those decisions by fixing a proper wage for females. This principle is not new to our arbitration system. For instance, in various States, wages boards are already operating within the framework of our general arbitration system. The Arbitration Court fixes the living wage for a State, and the wages boards dealing with particular industries, fix the margins for skill in those industries. It has never been contended that the wages boards have interfered with the normal functioning of the Arbitration Court. As a matter of fact, the work of those- boards has been regarded as some assistance to the court in dealing with the great mass of work confronting it to-day. In nearly every State, the Arbitration Court fixes standard hours and wages, and the wages boards work around those decisions, supplementing the work of the court and not conflicting with it.
This tribunal has been constituted for the purpose of doing much the same kind of work in respect of females as is now performed by wages boards in respect of males. These regulations specifically provide that it shall fix the wages for females on the basis of the wages fixed by the Arbitration Court for males. The test that the tribunal will apply will be the degree of efficiency in respect of both output and skill, of women; and, upon that basis it will decide the proportion of the male wage to be paid to females. How the right honorable gentleman can contend that that will cut across the work of the Arbitration Court puzzles me.
The next point upon which the right honorable gentleman took the Government to task was in respect of regulation 6, sub-regulation 4, which provides that the female rate fixed by the tribunal shall not exceed the male rate, and shall not be less than 60 per cent, of the male rate. The right honorable gentleman found fault with this sub-regulation also on the ground that it would interfere with the standards set by the Arbitration Court. I emphasize that the tribunal will endeavour to do something which the court has not yet attempted to do. or been asked to do, because women are only now coming into heavy industries in which no wage has previously been fixed for them. The right honorable gentleman is upset really because this provision gives a little more generous treatment to female .labour, to which he himself has given considerable lip service but no practical assistance. Whilst the Arbitration Court has fixed the general female rate at 54 per cent, of the male rate, these regulations stipulate a minimum female rate of 60 per cent, of the male rate.
Much argument has taken place from time to time on the subject of equal pay for the sexes in respect of equal work. It is generally admitted that females perform with equal efficiency some classes of work which had come to be regarded as being reserved to males; and, at the same time, it is a physical impossibility for women to do much of the heavier classes of work with ‘ equal efficiency. However, when a woman does work to a standard of 60 per cent, of the efficiency of males in respect of both skill and output, she is entitled ‘to at least 60 per cent, of the male rate. In each industry to which women have just been introduced, the tribunal must discover the degree of efficiency of women in relation to male workers, and remunerate females on that basis. The right honorable gentleman said that he is not opposed to the principle of equal pay for equal work. However, he introduced a very ingenious argument in respect of the basis on which the male living wage is now fixed. I suggested by interjection, that if his argument were carried to its logical conclusion, there would never be equal pay for the sexes; we should find ourselves up against a stone wall, because his argument is this : The existing living wage is based on not only the work performed by a male, but also the male-worker’s family needs. That is to say, the living wage is not merely remuneration for the man’s work, but is intended to make it possible for him to become a family man. The right honorable gentleman claims that it is a family maintenance wage; and, because of that fact, it should not be paid to a woman. He says that women workers should be paid only that proportion of the basic wage which directly represents the remuneration for work done. I have no doubt that he would favour the fixation of a wage for bachelors solely on the basis of remuneration for work done, and exclusive of any payment in respect of family needs. I point out that women are now working side by side with bachelors who have no family responsibilities, but are paid the basic wage, which includes an amount allowed in respect of family needs. Is it not right that spinsters who work side by side with bachelors in war work should receive the same rate as the bachelors, provided the females give equal efficiency and output?
– Would not the ideal basis be a wage for a man and his wife with loadings in respect of family needs?
– Not unless every body was guaranteed employment.
– The fixation of the base wage as suggested by the honorable member would not overcome the point raised by the right honorable member for Kooyong, namely, that as the woman employed in industry has no family responsibility, she should not receive a wage which takes family responsibility into consideration. Although the right honorable gentleman puts his argument very subtly, his real contention is that, regardless of whether a woman in industry is the equal of a male worker in respect of quality and quantity of work, she should never be allowed to receive the same wage as a man. That will not get him anywhere.
– That is the real conflict.
– There is no doubt about that. The right honorable gentle man put it very subtly, but he has slammed the door against equal pay for the sexes.
I now propose to examine the constitution of the Women’s Employment Board. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) spoke at great length upon this motion, but his speech, like “ the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la”, had nothing to do with the case. He concentrated, as did the right honorable member for Kooyong, on the constitution of the board. Among other things, he delivered a veiled attack on the chairman, who is a member of the judiciary in Victoria.
– It was a very open attack.
– Yes ; he charged the chairman with being partial. He also accused the Government of making political appointments, as if political appointments to the judiciary were something new. If that is to be the basis of the condemnation of the board, let us examine some other appointments which have been made to the judiciary. First, I mention Judge Drake-Brockman. Whilst I do not suggest that he is partial to one side, his political antecedents would never have justified his appointment to the Arbitration Court, according to the standard set by the right honorable member for Kooyong. Prior to his elevation to the Bench, Judge DrakeBrockman was a partisan in the Arbitration Court as the representative of the employers, and later as a United Australia party senator he was a political partisan. In the eyes of honorable members opposite, that did not disqualify him from appointment by them to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. His appointment was unquestionably a political one; but now, the Opposition finds fault with the Women’s Employment Board because the judge who is the chairman, many years ago contested unsuccessfully an election as a supporter of the Labour party.
From time to time, Australia has been represented at the conferences of the International Labour Organization at Geneva. On one occasion, the Government denied to the trade union movement the right to select its delegate, and appointed the representative from a panel of names which it had invited the unions to submit. The employers having selected their delegate, the Government then appointed, as its representative, Mr. Heath, who had been a prominent figure in the timber workers’ strike as an advocate of the employers. By that means, the Government secured two representatives of the employers and one handpicked representative of the trade union movement to represent the people of Australia. With a record like that, honorable members opposite still have the temerity to talk about political patronage.
Judge Beeby, who in later years was such a profound sleeper on the Bench when evidence was being taken, was also a political appointee, but honorable members opposite found no fault with him. .
– He was a good Labour man.
– At one time he was. But like many other Labour men, he forgot his Labour ideals once he had been appointed to the position. Mr. Justice Lukin was also a political appointee. He had retired from the Queensland Bench, and was drawing a full pension. An anti-Labour government picked him out at a. time when an attack on the wage standards of the workers was contemplated, and his first achievement was to reduce wages and increase hours of labour. That action caused the disastrous timber workers’ stri’ke. But this gentleman who prescribed for the timber workers reduced wages and longer working hours and who was a wholehearted advocate of the Premiers’ plan, refused fo accept a reduction of his pension or remuneration as a judge. What was sauce for the working-class goose was not sauce for the Lukin gander. But honorable gentlemen opposite hold up their hands in horror because they suspect that the judge who was selected as chairman of the Women’s Employment Board’ is a political appointee. All power to the Minister for Labour and National Service! I hope that he places more Labour sympathizers in similar positions, because they are sadly needed.
– The honorable member is concent-ratine upon the chairman, and is not commenting upon the other members of the board._
– The honorable member for Fawkner is too hasty. The honorable member for Wentworth pointed out that the Minister for Labour and National Service did not allow the employers sufficient time in which to select their representative. No sensible person believes that the employers do not have in mind a suitable man when they know in advance that they will be asked to nominate their representative. The honorable member put forward the specious argument that the appointment of the tribunal should have been delayed until the Employers Federation, which represents employers throughout the length and breadth of Australia, had ascertained the views of all its members before it announced its decision. Many employers are not particularly interested in the subject of female labour. Was the Government to wait for the coal-owners to express their opinion as to who shall represent the employers on a tribunal established for the purpose of fixing remunerations for females in industry? Female labour is not used in the coalmines. Countless employers have not the slightest interest in the matter of female labour. Yet, in these critical times, when labour is being diverted from civil to war industries and no proper provision has been made for it in Arbitration Court awards, the Employers’ Federation asked to be allowed an indefinite period for consultation of its members. There is not the slightest doubt that the employers were determined to sabotage the Women’s Employment Board. Honorable members opposite will doubtless point out that comparatively little delay has occurred in making the ‘appointments. butt there is ample evidence that the employers, who had previously caused the failure of the conference that was to establish peace in industry because they declared that the judge who presided was partial, were determined to adopt th* same tactics towards the Women’s Employment Board. I give the Minister for Labour and National Service all credit for nipping this scheme in the bud. He was determined at the earliest possible date to get the tribunal functioning, and the employers resolved to delay it as Ions as possible. Their reason is obvious. Any delay in adjusting the wages of female workers would mean greater profits to the employers.
– And less munitions for the war effort.
– That is the position as the Minister for Labour and National Service saw it. When, by their sabotaging tactics, the employers made it evident that they would delay indefinitely the workings of the board, the Minister very properly looked elsewhere for a representative of the employers. His choice fell upon a lady with a distinguished industrial career. She is, perhaps, one of the most able industrialists in Australia to represent the Ministry of Munitions which is, and will be, the greatest employer of female labour in the Commonwealth. Since the employers did not wish to be associated with this tribunal and were determined to make it unworkable, the Government very properly gave the representation to the largest employer of female labour.
Those are the only two points which the right honorable member for Kooyong raised in justification of his motion to disallow this statutory rule. The right honorable gentleman has been heard to much better effect than he was last night. His field was somewhat restricted, because he did not wish to put some of his friends in a false light. For a long time they have given lip service to the principle of equal pay for the sexes for equal work. As a political catch-cry, it is very attractive, but some honorable members opposite were confronted with the problem of having to justify their use of it in the past by supporting the statutory rule. The right honorable gentleman sought, by reasoning that did not do him great credit, to conceal the fact that his motion was a veiled attack upon the principle, and that if his views were carried to their logical conclusion, equal pay for the sexes could never be established in industry. I hope that the House, in its wisdom, will recognize that the statutory rule is not an attack upon the arbitration system, but is supplementary to it. Honorable members should appreciate that the trade unions have sacrificed a very important, principle in opening the gates for the purpose of permitting women to enter industry from which they were excluded many years ago. The statutory rule will do justice to the women who have taken employment in war industries, and will accelerate the war effort by promoting contentment.
.- Before proceeding with my objections to the statutory rule that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) seeks to disallow, I desire to make a few general remarks upon the problem of the employment of women, in view of the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has seen fit to misrepresent my views upon the matter. I am of opinion that a woman who does the same work as a man, equally well and with the same endurance, should be entitled to the same standard of living as her male counterpart. Having stated that general proposition, I add that the whole problem of what is a proper and equitable rate of payment for females is most complex and difficult. If I needed any. evidence to support that contention, it was to be found in the evasiveness of Ministers at question time to-day. They shuffled about in order to avoid having to state precisely the rates of pay that are now being made to women who are doing work comparable with that of men in certain branches of the fighting services, and departments controlled by the Government. It is notable that Ministers who have in the past been most forthright in their views that there should be equal pay for the sexes are not putting that principle into practice. I call attention to it-he fact that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who, as Minister for Munitions, employs a great many women in munitions factories, and as Minister for the Navy employs members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service, has on the notice-paper the following motion -
That in the opinion of this House discrimination by reason of difference of sex between workers is economically indefensible and is inconsistent with the Australian principle of equality., arid that, consequently, the Government should forthwith apply this principle in all civil and defence departments by according equal wages. salaries and allowances to men and women employed on work of the same class.
It will be very interesting to see what the honorable gentleman does about the payment of female employees in the two departments he administers. My view that women are entitled to equal pay for equal work is shared by honorable gentlemen opposite, but in particular cases it is often impracticable to pay to a woman the same money as would be paid to a man.
– The principle may be sound, but it may be difficult to apply it in particular cases.
– Yes. That is the whole point of the argument advanced by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), who takes the ground that this principle is of great importance and that, therefore, there should be some central guidance in its application, because, quite obviously, if it be applied in certain cases great confusion will be caused and industrial friction created.
– Is that not the reason for the establishment of this board?
– I shall come to my objections to the board later. It would be interesting to know how many Trades Hall typists are paid the male basic wage. No doubt many honorable members opposite have had to engage a domestic servant or a laundress. I wonder if they have felt it necessary to ease their conscience by paying the full male rate.
– There is no comparable male rate.
– But there is a basic wage for unskilled labour.
– The women employed at the Melbourne Trades Hall have been receiving equal pay with men for twenty years.
– I read in the newspapers recently that the women employed at the Sydney Trades Hall threatened to go on strike unless they received the male basic wage. I make these comments because they express the difficulty, the existence of which is conceded by the honorable member for Batman, of putting the general principle into effect in all cases. It is, therefore, essential that, if industrial harmony is to be preserved, there shall be a tribunal that will be able to indicate the general principles which should apply in particular cases. That brings me to my first objection to the tribunal established under these regulations. The right honorable member for Kooyong explained clearly how the creation of this particular tribunal was a departure from our established practice of having matters of this kind dealt with by the Arbitration Court. It is no answer to the right honorable gentleman’s case for the Minister for Labour and National Service to say that the tribunal is merely another wages board. In most States for many years ii has been the practice to give directions to wages boards that they shall apply in the cases which come before them the principles laid down by the Arbitration Court. Where the Arbitration Court has dealt with a similar class of employment the wages boards are directed to award the same wage rate as has been awarded by the Arbitration Court. This committee is a rival tribunal set up alongside the Arbitration Court. It will deal with matters of high industrial principle which in normal circumstances and under previous administrations would have gone to the Arbitration Court for determination. In reply to the arguments of the right honorable member for Kooyong, the Minister for Labour and National Service said that the Arbitration Court was hopelessly congested and that to have added the new field of inquiry represented by the increased employment of women in industry to the business of the Arbitration Court would have aggravated the serious position which now exists in that court.
– Did the Minister for Labour and National Service say that the Arbitration Court was hopelessly congested or that there were delays in reaching decisions ?
– If that was what was said by the Minister for Labour and National Service I have no doubt that members of the Arbitration Court Bench will have some interesting comments to make.
– At least one decision of the Arbitration Court was delayed by the making of this statutory rule.
– I prefer to put a kinder interpretation upon what was said by. the Minister for Labour and National Service by saying that he referred to congestion. If congestion does exist there is nothing to prevent the Government from appointing one or two more arbitration court judges. The previous Government set up a system of conciliation commissioners which is working well. Greater use could be made of the conciliation commissioners, or additional commissioners could be appointed.
– The conciliation commissioners deal with interpretations and disputes. The employment of women in industry is a new industrial principle.
– Exactly. That is the point in my argument. If we are to have harmony in industry and a uniform approach to new principles, it is essential that there shall be some central authority to apply a common rule to the whole of the Commonwealth. Our great fear, which is shared by the industry as a whole, certainly by the employers, is that the establishment of this tribunal will not only weaken the authority of the Arbitration Court, but will also cause confusion, since both courts will be dealing with the problem of the employment of women in their respective spheres. The employment of women is not a new problem created by the war, although the war has certainly accentuated it; the problem has been with us for many years. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) will recall that Judge Drake-Brockman, when dealing with the clothing trades case in 1928, went thoroughly into the problem of the employment of women. The presentation of that problem in a new form does not mean that the Arbitration Court cannot deal with it as effectively as in the past. Industry is in a state of constant evolution. Year in and year out, the court has to deal with new problems or new facets of old problems. My second objection, to these regulations has a distinct relation to my first objection. It is that the Government arbitrarily fixed a. minimum rate of 60 per cent, of the male wage for women workers. Why, if it was proposing to establish a tribunal which would he. able to investigate all aspects of this matter, did the Government give such a deliberate pointer to its policy and desires as arbitrarily to fix a rate of pay fi per cent, above the rate prevailing in industry? Tn 1928. Judge DrakeBrockman fixed the wages for women employed in the clothing trade at 54 per cent, of the male rate. That has since become the general rule in awards.
– The honorable member is mixing an old problem with a new. He knows better than that. Why not deal with the new problem?
– Women are now doing work that they have never done previously. In government factories, the full male rate is being paid to women doing work formerly done by men. There was no suggestion that this tribunal should consider that matter. Lest women should be under any illusion as to their championship by honorable members opposite, it should be brought home to them that the trade union movement knows that the best assurance of regular employment to the exclusion of women, it can give to its members is to have the equal pay for the sexes. In the clothing trades case, the union advocates asked that women be paid 60 per cent, of the male basic wage.
– As a minimum, and equal pay for women employed on the same kind of work as was done by men.
– The Government has arbitrarily fixed a rate considerably above the rate which has applied in the industry for many years.- In fixing a rate of 54 per cent.. Judge Drake-Brockman examined the budgets of many female workers and found that 78 per cent, of the female employees in a large city firm lived in their own homes or with relatives. He found that many women had no dependants at all. ‘Some contributed a little to the upkeep of the home, but in the majority of cases, where contributions were made, they were made as part of board in the home, or by the purchase of articles of clothing or articles for household use. After thorough inquiry into the matter, and a judicial examination of evidence, he said -
I see no reason to depart from the accepted principle of this court that the basic wage for women should he fixed for a single woman without dependants.
It i3 true, as the honorable member for Dalley has pointed out, that when that is done, it creates something of an anomaly at the present time, because a bachelor with or without dependants receives the full male basic wage. I agree with the honorable member that our present wage system is faulty in this particular regard. I contend that an ideal basic wage would be one which fixed a unit for a man and wife, and then, from a fund similar to our child endowment fund, provided a family loading, based on the number of children. In that way, the problem of family needs would be met.
– Why pay a man for a wife that he does not have?
– Most men who are unmarried are looking forward to, and preparing for, the time when they will be married.
– ‘Some of them seem to spend a long time looking.
– I ask the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) not to become personal in this matter. One does not delve into the reasons which actuate members of the community in their private affairs. They have their own problems, and they solve them in their own way and in their own time. What I have suggested would at least help a woman who had some dependants - there are many women who have dependants - and would enable her to make some provision for her marriage,, should she be fortunate enough to secure a suitable husband, just as the present system enables a bachelor to make provision for his marriage. Whatever may be argued about the considerations upon which the Arbitration Court now arrives at its basic wage findings, the problem of needs has an important influence upon its decisions. In the last basic wage case, in 1941, Judge Beeby stated that in his view the basic wage was adequate for a man, wife and one child, provided a meagre allowance for a man, wife and two children, and was inadequate, and, in fact, caused some hardship, in cases where there were more children. It was on the basis of that finding that Judge Beeby recommended a scheme of family endowment, and it was upon the judge’s recommendation that the then government inaugurated the child endowment system which is now operating. It is because in the past the court has taken that stand, and at least has been influenced very strongly by the problem of needs, that it has provided these differential rates with respect to families. It is not my purpose to investigate at any length the problems of what rate should be paid, nor would it be proper for me to do so; that is not the province of members of this chamber. It Ls because we have problems of that kind that we have courts of law which, in the best method known in this country, can conduct proper inquiries and give impartial findings on these matters. I emphasize the words “impartial findings “ because that phrase brings me to the third objection which I take to these regulations. The proposed board is to consist of three members. One of them is Judge Foster, upon whom I wish to cast no reflection whatever. Whatever a man’s antecedents may have been, once he becomes a member of the judiciary, wc are entitled to assume that he will act fairly and impartially towards the parties that come before him. Therefore, I do not wish to pursue that matter any farther. However, I think that some comment is warranted in regard to the two other members of the board. The employees’ representative, Mr. Wallis, is the general secretary of the Clothing Trades Federation. I wash to make my own position clear by stating that I have considerable admiration and regard for Mr. Wallis, and I consider him to be a trade union official of the finest type that we have in this country; but I have some comment to make with regard to his qualifications for this particular post. Mr. Wallis has taken probably a more prominent part than any other trade unionist in the advocacy of equal pay for the sexes. He has advocated that in season and out of season ; he has led movements which have had that objective, and his views are well known to anybody who has studied the industrial problems of the Commonwealth.
– His opinions are based on years of experience.
– That may be.
– Does not the honorable member think that an efficient man should be appointed to this position; would he rather have an ignorant man ?
– Obviously, we all want an efficient man and not an ignorant man. but we believe that the scales are being loaded rather heavily when you put on one side a man who has committed himself, publicly and repeatedly, to a policy which may not be in accordance with the public policy that this board in its wisdom may consider to be the proper one.
– The workers have a right to choose their own representative.
– That may be so, but the point I am making is that if the employees found that there had been appointed to the board on the employers’ side, a man who was noted for his extreme views in regard to this particular problem, immediately they would have some suspicion and mistrust of the findings given by the tribunal.
– The honorable member should use the words “ wide knowledge “ rather than “ extreme views “.
– I mean what I have said. The Minister will have an opportunity to place his own interpretation upon Mr. Wallis’s views in regard to this matter, f say that in view of the generally accepted practice throughout the Commonwealth, Mr. Wallis’s views on this particular subject are extreme. With regard to the other appointment, I merely accept and support what has been said already by the right honorable member for Kooyong. I have no personal knowledge of Miss Cashman. For all I know she may be a most admirable representative from the point of view of- women in industry, and no doubt she was a most admirable and efficient trade union official when she was formerly engaged by the Printing Trades Union.
– The right honorable member for Kooyong was also a most efficient advocate for the trade unions when he acted in that capacity. In fact, he was one of the best in Australia, as was the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). Labour always endeavours to select the best people available.
– The point I wish to make is this: The essence of any judicial tribunal must be that the parties which come before it can expect an impartial inquiry and a fair decision. I am not prepared to say that that will not be so with this board, but it starts off with a tremendous handicap because the atmosphere is such that the tribunal cannot be expected to have the complete confidence and trust of the employers. Having some knowledge of the views of the employers in regard to this matter, I say that their suspicion of this tribunal, caused by their belief that it is loaded against them, will be such that it will serve to defeat the purpose of the Government in having female labour engaged in industry. It will retard the bringing of matters before the board, and that in turn will retard the absorption of females into the industries in which they are required. The Minister for Labour and National Service has claimed that he is seeking industrial peace throughout the Commonwealth, and this is one of the proposals which he brings before this House, before the country and before industry, as a means of securing that pence. I contend that in pursuing his present policy, the Minister is introducing in this country an era of industrial bitterness, such as has never before been experienced in the history of the Commonwealth. I say that quite definitely. What has happened in this chamber as a result of the Minister’s actions and statements in recent weeks is fouling the atmosphere of this chamber and that process is being carried outside the Parliament into the community as a whole. I say, speaking with some knowledge, that there is being developed in industrial circles a bitterness which will wreak havoc so far as our war effort is concerned, and poison the relationships between employers and employees throughout the community.
– Statistics show that there has never been so much industrial harmony as exists to-day.
– I am not making accusations against the employers or the employees; I realize that all sections of industry are to be commended for our remarkable industrial achievements since this war began. My fear, and that of many others, is that that good work will slacken, and the friendly atmosphere which, in no small degree, was developed during the last twelve months of the term of office of the previous Government with the assistance of many honorable members of the then Opposition, will be rapidly dissipated. To-day, there is a different spirit abroad, and a different feeling which is accentuated by the acts of impudence to which the right honorable member for Kooyong referred, such as the appointment of this woman as the special representative of the employers on a tribunal, the set-up of which is such that no employer can approach it conscientiously believing that he will get a fair deal: For that reason, I support in all earnestness the motion moved by the right honorable member for Kooyong. I hope that the House will be impressed by the very obvious objections which have been taken to the method of setting up this tribunal, and that by supporting the motion honorable members will defeat its continuance.
.- One would welcome a debate of this kind if it were confined to the merits of the subject under review. I am disappointed, because I had hoped that a subject such as this would be examined by honorable members on both sides of the chamber with advantage to the people generally. Unfortunately, it is seldom that anything worth whale is examined on its merits. Political prejudices always intrude, and the value of the debate is lost, because speakers insist on trying to work political points on one another. I see no reason why we should not concentrate upon the value of this board, and the reasons why it was brought into existence.
– It is unfortunate that the Minister was not present when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) made his reply last night.
– I have no doubt that the Minister for Labour and National Service replied to charges that had been made against him. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who very seldom indulges in recrimination, could not refrain this morning from doing so although only in mild language. If I were to follow on the lines of speeches made by honorable members opposite, I should waste the time allocated to me for this speech without touching upon the real subject at all. The honorable member for Fawkner tried to draw a red herring across the trail by asking what rates of wages were paid at the Trades Hall. What has that to do with the motion now before the House? I could repply to him by asking what some of the people whom he represents in this chamber are paying to their employees, and by reminding him that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), when he was Attorney-General, had to appoint an industrial inspector to make sure that the big companies were not cheating the workers by paying them sweating rates.
– I did appoint an inspector, but he was not a member of my political party.
– The right honorable gentleman was requested by the Labour party to make the appointment. The inspector had been operating for only a few months when he found that the working people had been robbed of thousands of pounds by the banks, insurance companies and other concerns. It is foolish for honorable members opposite to criticize the rates of wages paid by the unions to their employees. For years women in the service of the Melbourne Trades and Labour Council have been paid the same rate as men.
The economic background to this subject ought to be examined. The honorable member for Fawkner spoke about the general subject of the employment of women in industry and said ‘ that the courts had fixed lower rates of pay for women than for men. That does not affect the problem now under consideration, which arises from the extension of the use of female labour to new fields. This leads us to examine the reason why men are hostile to the introduction of women into new branches of industry. The honorable member for Fawkner said that, for selfish reasons, trade unionists generally had been hostile to women coming into industry. There is some truth in that statement as regards some industries. However, the employment of women has become an economic necessity. If we were to permit unrestricted competition and the employment of women and children under sweated conditions, the workers would return to the gutter, where they were 30 years ago. Unrestricted competition of that sort inevitably brings every body lower and lower down the social scale. A line of demarcation had to be drawn, and some years ago. it became generally agreed in Australia that women should not be employed in certain classes of work. One reason for this was the need to retain sufficient work to keep the breadwinners of the nation in employment, and another was that it would have been inhuman to employ women in engineering workshops, iron foundries and other metal trades. The line of demarcation was drawn, and it became the custom that certain industries should be preserved to males only. How did the labour position which confronts us to-day arise? The right honorable member for Kooyong knows that, when he was Prime Minister, all sorts of bottle-necks occurred in industry. Acute shortages of tradesmen developed in the metal trades industries, and skilled engineers, fitters and turners and others could not be obtained for love or money. The right honorable gentleman wanted tens of thousands more of such employees for the war effort, and he asked honorable members on this side of the House to cooperate with the then Government in persuading the handful of men employed in these industries to dilute their forces, to treat fourth-year apprentices as fifth-year apprentices and to reduce the periods of technical training required of apprentices. This was done, but we have reached a stage at which we cannot obtain sufficient men; even by this means, to meet the requirements of war industries. Therefore, we have to bring women into industry to perform work which previously they were not allowed to perform, and we must effect the change as quickly as possible so that our output of munitions will increase hourly. This has raised the question of whether the Arbitration Court can fix wages and conditions for the employment of women in the ordinary way. The answer is that the court has never done so before, because this is a new field of arbitration. It has never made an award fixing equal rates of pay for the sexes for similar work. It has only gone as far as to make awards fixing rates of pay for certain classes of work which may not be varied whether the work be performed by men or women. In the hoot and clothing trades, intelligent judges, who studied the problems of sweating and excessive competition amongst employers in an endeavour to cheat each other and arrive at lower costs of production, fixed for certain jobs rates of pay which were made applicable to both men and women. Some employers have discovered that women can do some kinds of work more efficiently than men, and, therefore, they employ women and pay them the male rate of pay, because the law provides no other rate. Many times, we have discovered that women have been employed on such work at lower rates of pay and we have had to take action through the courts in order to obtain for these employees hundreds of pounds of overdue wages. I repeat that the Arbitration Court has never stipulated that the male rate of pay shall in a general way over an industry be paid to females performing similar work. This has to be done now. The Government had to ask somebody to do the job, and therefore it promulgated these regulations in order to create the Women’s Employment Board. The question now under discussion is the wisdom or otherwise of this action. There would be no wisdom in disallowing the regulations, and no wrong can be done by retaining them. They will accomplish what the Government seeks to accomplish. We have asked the engineers to dilute their craft, and to take more and more young men from other industries and put them to work on machines, after a brief period of training. They have done so, but the supply of youths is not inexhaustible, and they have agreed now to allow more machine tools to be manned by women, subject to the condition that women shall receive the same rates of pay as men. Is there anything wrong with that? The men must protect themselves in some way. A few women can do the work as well as men and, in some instances, they are more efficient than men. About 2 o’clock in the morning a few weeks ago, I watched a woman at a munitions establishment operating a machine which previously had been operated by a man. A man was doing exactly similar work on a neighbouring machine. The output of the woman I watched was higher than that of the average man engaged on that work,, but how long she could stand the strain is another question. There is no logic in the contention that a woman who has been called upon to do munitions work because of the great need of the country, should not receive the same rate of pay as a man doing similar work. When an application is made for the right to employ women on any work which previously has been performed exclusively by men, the new board must decide whether male rates of pay should be paid immediately to the women or whether there should be a probationary period in which the women must demonstrate their ability to do the work. The board has decided that women engaged in new branches of industry shall be paid approximately 60 per cent, of the appropriate male rate of pay for the duration of their probationary employment. However, if a woman can show from the start that she is capable of working as efficiently as a man the probationary period is dispensed with, and the woman receives full rates immediately. That is fair. Women have been introduced into these new fields only because of “ the necessity for obtaining more employees to manufacture munitions. The change has not been made because the Government wants to .break down the line of demarcation between grades of male and female labour. If I had my way, I should not allow women to work in metal trades. Prior to the war, I had to fight for many years to keep them out of that class of employment. We had ‘ to stop the employment of women in a department of the Sunshine Harvester Works, where women had been working in a moulding shop. By contact with dirty whale oil, their clothes and their hands and faces became so begrimed that had they remained at such work for a long period they would not have been permitted to ride on public vehicles. We have always tried to keep women out of such work, but the necessities of the war demand that we modify our attitude for the time being. There is no other way of securing the output of arms and munitions needed for our war effort; but honorable members opposite want to prevent us from doing this. To say that the appointment of this board is not an innovation would not be correct; to say that the Arbitration Court could not perform the work which the board will perform would also be wrong. The court could do it, but it would take too long to do the job. It is overloaded with work Mr. Holloway. now. It would have to review at least six awards covering the classes of work affected, and we cannot afford to wait for it to do this, time being of the essence of the contract.
– It would be reviewing its own decisions.
– But it would take months to come to a decision, as the right honorable gentleman knows. I remember being opposed to the right honorable gentleman in an arbitration case in the days when he was receiving about 40 guineas a day for his services. Mr. Stanley Lewis was supporting him, and I could not help admiring their cleverness in starting arguments over the interpretations of words and phrases. They could, without difficulty, waste a day in such arguments.
– And when we had done that, the honorable gentleman usually occupied a week in answering us.
– -I could not possibly waste so much time as the right honorable gentleman did over such matters. I am not clever enough to do that. However, after the case had proceeded for three or four months, I obtained a favorable verdict. As I said earlier, the ‘court has fixed rates of pay for certain classes of work in the boot and clothing trades, and these rates must be paid to the operatives whether they be male or female, but it has never made an award fixing equal rates of pay for the sexes. The statement that this board will interfere with the Arbitration Court is not consistent with the facts. Every body knows that the wages board system in Victoria has worked in harmony with the Arbitration Court ever since arbitration was introduced.
Sitting suspended from 12.£5 to 2.15 p.m.
– Summing up: 1 can see no objection to these regulations, but a lot of danger and trouble if they are disallowed. I said in my opening remarks that this is a matter which governs the employment of a number of persons engaged in the manufacture of munitions. No matter to what degree we practise dilution of labour, raise the grade of unskilled men, or reduce the period of technical training, there will not be sufficient male labour to meet the needs of the ever-growing contracts. The only alternative was to introduce female labour into a field where it had not previously been employed. The effects of the regulations are not such as have been alleged by honorable members opposite. There will not be a setting aside of awards of the Arbitration Court, or interference with the efficiency of the court. There is no award of the court covering this matter, consequently there cannot bo interference. There will be no interference with the practice of the court in any way, and neither its status nor its efficacy will be impaired.
Mr.Hughes. - Indirectly, there may be interference with awards of the Arbitration Court.
– No. In order to introduce this new element, the Arbitration Court would have to review half a dozen awards covering the affected sections of the metal trades. Anybody who has had experience of the Arbitration Court knows that, because ofits cumbersome nature - not because of its personnel - and by reason of the fact that it has developed a legal status, both sides debating and arguing technicalities in regard to practically every sentence of an award, too much time is occupied by it in the hearing of claims. In this matter, time is of the essence of the contract. Some means have to be devised in order to shortcircuit lengthy and tiring arguments in relation to interpretation.
– Will this tribunal have the right to fix hours?
– And matters in relation to overtime?
– Yes, if female workers are’ physically able to undertake overtime work. Some of them are working a twelve-hour shift. Male rates will be paid for this class of work.
Mr.Hughes. - What class of work is it?
– The work of a process worker. These women are operating machine tools and machines that are half the size of the table at which I am standing, which until now have been operated solely by men. The production of machines was accelerated, but a sufficient number of men could not be engaged to work them. Thus, women are being placed in work which had never previously been done by them.
Mr.Hughes. -In Australia.
– During the last war, women in England did heavier work than this. In Australia, women have not previously done this class of. work, and there is no award that would cover them. The nearest approach to an award of the court was that which fixed a rate of pay for a certain class of work, irrespective of what sex performed it. That does not apply to the metal trades. It applies to the boot trade, the clothing trade, the printing trade, and clerical work.
– There is differentiation from 60 per cent. of the male wage upwards.
– No. A rate is fixed, and the employer is told that that is what has to be paid. This matter has been fought in the courts many times, because employers have put females on work usually done by males and have continued to pay them the female rate. This is an innovation, and for that reason had to be dealt with in this way. It is not novel to have another tribunal, working hand in hand with the Arbitration Court. Organizations of both employers and employees often convened a wages board or a round-table conference in. order to cover sections of a trade, industry, or craft, that were not covered by an award of the Arbitration Court. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) knows as well as anybody that, ever since the inauguration of federation, a fight has been waged for what is described as a common rule. Because the court has never been able to effect that purpose completely under an award, wages boards have had to be brought into existence in order to close gaps. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), I believe, and certainly the honorable member for Fawkner. (Mr. Holt), have said that there is something wrong in the Government being classified as an employer in a court or before a tribunal. Every body knows that there is no sense in that contention. Surely, the industrial officers associated with Victoria Barracks and other Commonwealth establishments have for years, ever since the last war, appeared in courts as representatives of the Commonwealth Government or a Commonwealth department, as the employer. Therefore, there is nothing novel in the Minister for Labour and National Service appointing some authority to represent him as the temporary employer.
– What is the personnel of the new tribunal?
– As the regulations set out, the tribunal consists of an equal number of representatives of employees and employers, with a judge as an impartial chairman. The old custom has been followed of appointing a judge if one is available. A judge is supposed to be, and every one will agree that he is, as nearly as possible capable of displaying impartiality as a chairman. Whatever the political beliefs of a judge might be, I do not think that any one would impugn his impartiality. The right honorable member for Kooyong has stated that he has not the slightest doubt that a judge would be fair and impartial, whoever he might be. Some honorable members have said that the selection of representatives has not been made in the orthodox way. The only point made in proof of that is that the Minister appointed an employers’ representative to represent the Government. The Chamber of Manufactures objected to that.
– The Minister knows that the woman in question has been an employee, not an employer, for some years.
– Many persons who have held the highest positions in Australia, including several Prime Ministers and Attorneys-General and more than one Minister for Defence have previously been representatives of employees and officers of trade unions. That background, in this country and in Great Britain, has produced some of the greatest men. The man nominated by the employers to sit on this tribunal was at one time the secretary of the Boot Trades Federation. After his retirement from that position, he was appointed secretary of the boot manufacturers because of his experience and ability. I said at the outset that I wanted to keep away from political issues, and to discuss the merits of this piece of industrial machinery. I defy any honorable member to show any defect in the machine that has been erected, or any lack of wisdom in its having been erected for the purpose that the Government sought to achieve. There is no justification for levelling the charge against the Minister for Labour and National Service that an unsuitable person has been appointed as the representative of the employers. From 60 per cent, to 80 per cent, of the work which will form the subject-matter of disputes considered by the tribunal will be done by the Government itself. The Minister appointed a member of the board to represent him as the employer in this case, and therefore no injustice will be done to the employers. The only consideration that appears to concern some honorable members opposite is “ How will it affect the employers ? “ ; but in this case the employer is doubly protected. Most of the work regarding which the tribunal will be required to arbitrate is being done in government workshops; most of it is being done for the Government, and the annexes and most of the machinery have been provided at the expense of the Government. In every case contracts are let at rates fixed in conference with representatives of the Government, and the result must be an increased production of munitions within the shortest possible time. This will add greatly to the number of persons employed in the factories. It is not just to continue to call upon those controlling factories and workshops to employ boys or unskilled labourers, to operate machines until the engineers left in these establishments represent only a small percentage of the employees. An agreement has now been reached, and where the board determines that machines operated by women have previously always been operated by men, the same wages are to be paid to the women as was formerly paid to the men. Otherwise, under the iron law of competition, it would be impossible for the male members of the trade unions to preserve their industrial rights.
.- I congratulate the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) on his speech in support of the motion, but I consider that the Minister for Social Services and Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. “Ward), throughout their speeches gave a perfect exhibition of side-stepping the real issue. Nor did the Minister for Social Services touch upon the vital point of the discussion. Why was the Commonwealth Arbitration Court denied an opportunity to do the work that it has always done, and why has a special tribunal been set up with a partisan personnel to deal with this matter? The persons appointed to the board have repeatedly declared their views on the wages and other conditions of employment of women in industry. I have no objection to the employment of women. The Opposition has advocated that policy, and when in power it has put it into operation. The Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) :has a motion on the noticepaper dealing with the employment of women in industry, yet he selected one of the appointees to this hoard and rejected the nomination of the employers.
When there is lopsided arbitration there is bound to be trouble in industry. The present tribunal is not representative of the employers. When the appointees represent only one side in industry it is impossible to obtain goodwill and cooperation. The personnel of this board is such that it constitutes the very negation of arbitration. Apparently the Government desires to destroy arbitration. The good fortune of having introduced the first bill providing for conciliation and arbitration fell to the credit of the political party of which I am a member. During the last 50 years, both in this Parliament and in the parliaments of the States, bills dealing with the establishment of arbitration courts and other measures relating to arbitration matters have been introduced by the parties now in Opposition. The first Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was brought down in 1904 by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin. The measure has been amended from time to time, and most of the amendments have been submitted by other than Labour governments. The object of the Minister for Labour and National Service is to destroy arbitration by an attempt to bring about the political fixation of wages. The appointment of Mr. A. B. Wallis,. general secretary of the Clothing Trades Union, is of a partisan nature. He has many good qualities, but he has again and again expressed his views regarding the conditions of employment of women in industry. A similar remark is applicable to the appointment of Miss Cashman. We cannot expect goodwill in industry when a board of this description is so “ loaded “. The proper way to determine hours, wages, and other conditions of employment, and to settle industrial disputes, is to refer them to the Arbitration Court; but the action of the Government in setting up a special tribunal composed of political partisans is an attempt to sabotage the Arbitration Court. I regard this statutory rule as the first step by the Minister for Labour and National Service in that direction. This Parliament will watch with interest the next and subsequent steps taken by the Minister towards that objective. If this statutory rule is not disallowed, arbitration in Australia will be doomed.
The Arbitration Court, before the appointment of this board, was already dealing with the fixation of hours, wages., and other conditions of employment of women, and despite that fact the Government announced the appointment of a special board to carry out the same work. The appointment of the board has seriously delayed the court in determining the wages, hours, and other conditions, of employment’ of women in industry. But for the action of the Minister for Labour ‘ and National Service, in sabotaging the court, tens of thousands of additional women would now be engaged in industry in connexion with the war effort. I submit that the judges of the Arbitration Court, with their long experience of arbitration matters, are much more qualified for this work than is the board that has been set up by the Government. Under the guise of war expediency, industrial conditions are to be determined, not by the court, but by the Government through its nominees. If either side in industry be suspicious and suspects that partisan appointments have been made to boards of this kind, there can be no harmony, goodwill, confidence, or cooperation, and the war effort will be retarded. The Government should have allowed both sides in the industry to nominate a panel of persons from whom a selection should have been made by the Government. The refusal of the Government to appoint the representative nominated by the employers constitutes a rejection of a recognized principle of arbitration and will create chaos in industry, ff the Parliament does not reject Statutory Rule No. 146 we shall ultimately have the same chaos in industry generally as has prevailed in the coal-mining industry in New South Wales. I shall not discuss what the hours, wages, and other conditions of employment of women in industry should be. That is a matter for the Arbitration Court. Of what use is it to appoint an arbitration tribunal if the conditions to prevail in the industry have been laid down in advance? Regardless of what our opinions may be, the Arbitration Court should decide that matter. Political interference with arbitration will destroy it and slow down the war effort, because there will be no confidence in the decisions given. I draw the attention of honorable members to the following remarks by the late Mr. Deakin, in introducing the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in 1904:-
When the impartial tribunal has pronounced upon the case the public will accept its finding, not that it will be any more infallible than any other human tribunal; but, like our best tribunals, being trained and disciplined and “well-informed, it will be very rarely wrong, or, if wrong, then in a very slight degree. The public will have confidence in it, and the force of public opinion will support the execution of the penalties of the law, and will thus make them effective. If it should ever conceivably be proved - it might be among uncivilized peoples - that an act of this kind was unworkable, it would he time enough then to repeal it. But I submit that among a civilized people it represents a noble effort to lift out of the field of strife and of mutual hatred the keen issues which have severed employers and employed, and to raise them to a higher level in the light, of day and by impartial judgment.
The basic principle of arbitration is impartial judgment, but the tribunal established to determine the industrial conditions of women in industry is not impartial. We have a packed jury. The House is asked to support a statutory rule that represents a camouflaged effort to sabotage arbitration by the appointment of a partisan board that will destroy the confidence and goodwill in arbitration that has been built up over the last 50 years. This is an effort to torpedo arbitration. The Government seeks mercilessly to dive-bomb arbitration out of existence, and to substitute political fixation of wages and other industrial conditions by a partisan board. I support the motion.
.- The ignorance of the honorable member for Moreton (M!r. Francis) as to the genesis of arbitration is understandable and even forgivable, but none the less calls for correction. While he was speaking, I was looking at the right honorable gentleman sitting alongside him. 1 refer to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). I can imagine him saying : “ It is curious what the whirligig of time produces in political circles. It is strange that this neophyte and anti-Labourite should be standing alongside me to declare that the Labour party is sabotaging the principle of arbitration for which I, the right honorable member for North Sydney, as a leading member of that party, strove so hard and so valiantly for many years to inaugurate against the opinions and the eloquence of gentlemen of the same political outlook as the honorable member for Moreton “. I have been a member of this Parliament for many years and a Minister of the Crown for a relatively few years. I gratefully acknowledge that I was a Minister of the Crown by reason of the fact that gentlemen like the honorable member for Moreton had made a frontal, deliberate, and even cold-blooded attack upon the principle of arbitration. That was how and why the Labour Government of which I was a member for over two years came into being. The right honorable gentleman who does himself so little credit by sitting on the other side of the House to-day will recall that arbitration was introduced- into the Commonwealth Parliament by reason of the fact that “ sweating” conditions then existed in industry and because the infant Labour party was able to get liberal and courageous spirits like the late Mr. Henry Bournes Higgins, who became a judge of the High Court in later years, and the then honorable member for Ballarat, Mr. Deakin, to assist it to put into operation the policy, not of the United Australia party, but of Labour.
– That is the claim that is always made when some one else has done something worth while.
– That is a short account of how the Conciliation and Arbitration Act became law, and of the part taken in regard to it by honorable gentlemen with the outlook of the honorable member for Moreton. They have accepted arbitration because they have bad no choice; but they have never, in fact, manifested’ any sympathy with a policy which undermines untrammelled competition in employment, and consequently to that degree they have been consistent champions of “ swea ting “ and the right to “ sweat “. I did not rehearse those observations as part of what I proposed to say. This motion by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) is for the disallowance of National Security (Employment of Women) “Regulations under Statutory Rules 1942, No. 146. As one would expect, we on this side have a comfortable feeling that whatever could be said against the regulations was well said by the right honorable gentleman, because he does know something about arbitration, its history and its application, and he has the distinction of occupying, by common consent, a position of eminence at the Victorian Bar. However, I oppose the motion, and I do so for the reasons so admirably stated, first by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) and later by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway). Regulation 6 is as follows: -
Where an employer, because of a shortage or impending shortage of male labour, desires to employ females on work for which a rate of payment for mule employees has been determined by any industrial award, order, determination or agreement and for which a rate of payment for female employees less than the rate for male employees has not been so determined, the employer or an organization to which he belongs shall, before the employer employs female? on any such work at a rate of payment less than that so determined for male employees, make a.ri application to the board, getting out fully the nature of the work on which it is desired to employ females.
The regulations are to be administered by a board which shall be representative of employers and employees. The purpose of the regulations, as I understand them, is to disturb as little as possible the existing conditions of employment under determinations of wages boards and awards of arbitration courts, but to take such action as has been rendered necessary by the influx of female labour into war industries to prevent females from being exploited. For that reason the regulations prescribe that the board shall not fix wages at a rate less than 60 per cent., nor more than 100 per cent., of the male rate applicable to an industry. It would appear that one of the board’s duties is to decide whether it has the right to deal with a particular case, that is to say, is it a case in which the rate for female employees, being less than that for male employees, has not, nevertheless, been fixed by any arbitration court award or determination of a wages board, or by agreement between the parties? The board is also to determine whether the particular occupation under review is one in which females should in any circumstances engage. It is particularly in regard to that aspect of the matter that I would refer an inquirer to the speech of the Minister for Social Services, who dealt with it in a very interesting and informative manner. The right, honorable member for Kooyong divided his argument into two parts, the less important and the more important, and he dealt with the less important part first. But when he came to deal with the mom important portion, it was obvious that his charge was not against the form, i»r structure, of the regulations, or their spirit, but against the personnel of the board. It was a charge that the regulations would be administered with bias and unfairness; that the choice of the personnel of the board had been dictated by political, and improper, considerations. That is a very serious charge, indeed, to make against Ministers; but in this case, I submit, a groundless charge so far as it refers to the regulations themselves. He mentioned th*; personnel of the ‘board, dealing with it in detail, commencing with the gentleman who occupies the position of County Court Judge in Melbourne, Judge Foster. With reference to him, he used the extraordinary phrase that he was sure that, “ Judge Foster would do his best to be impartial “. I want to know what the right honorable gentleman intended to convey by those words, unless he wished to convey that he had no great confidence that the judge would, in fact, though he would do his best, succeed in being impartial. Partial means that a man v; biased; that he is influenced less by the substantial merits of the case, than by a prejudice in favour of one of the parties to the issue that is being decided. It is psychological; and I feel, therefore, that a person who does his best to be impartial is either impartial, or he is not. Therefore, at would have been much more graceful, and, I think, much more accurate, to say that one had confidence 6’hat Judge Foster would be entirely impartial. Anybody who knows the history of the judge upon the Bench could hardly come to any other” conclusion, but that he would be entirely free from any kind of improper bias in favour of one side or the other. It has been said that Judge Foster was once a Labour candidate. I should like to say more about Judge Foster than that. I should like to say of him that he rendered great service over many years to the Labour movement ; that he was a loyal believer in Labour politics. And I could tell something to the Opposition that would strike even deeper horror in their bosoms than that he was a Labour candidate. I tell them that he stood his trial in the last war for certain words and actions which were considered to be detrimental to the war effort. His spirited and entirely successful defence on that occasion, far from lowering him, elevated him a great deal in my judgment. But that was many years ago. Since then he has achieved a position of distinction and honour on the Bench and hardly any one who is familiar with his work would venture to impugn it in any way on the ground of bias, than which no graver charge can be made against anybody occupying a judicial position. The more distinguished of the judges of the High Court were engaged in politics before they were elevated to the Bench. A gentleman who was Governor-General of Australia, and, I venture to say, our greatest GovernorGeneral, Sir Isaac Isaacs, and the late Mr. Henry Bournes Higgins, were both engaged in politics before their elevation to the bench. Neither of them was a member of the Labour party. Few judges have been actively associated with Labour politics. The greatest of them achieved fame before Labour was organized as a political party. Further, from time to time, the reigning executives would not touch a Labour man with “ a 40-f t. pole “.
Mr. Wallis’s fitness as a representative of the employees on this tribunal is not questioned even by honorable members opposite. Consequently, they have concentrated their attention on Miss Cashman. The Minister for Labour and National Service knows the history of her appointment better than I do. I no not know anything about Miss C ashman. If she is famous as a Labour advocate, I commend her skill and ability; but I have no personal knowledge of her, and, therefore, I shall say nothing about her appointment, except that the fact that she was chosen for this responsible office by the Minister for Labour and National Service satisfies me that she is suitable for the office. In any case, the appointments made to this tribunal are not really germane to the issue as to whether the regulations should be disallowed. If bad appointments have been made, that is a proper matter for complaint; but it is not a matter in respect of which the regulations as such should be disallowed. When I interjected something to that effect when the Tight honorable member for Kooyong was speaking, he affected to misunderstand me, and asked whether I was submitting a point of order through the Chair to him. I was not. I was merely conveying to his receptive mind the fact that, under many excellent acts of parliament and regulations, appointments have to be made to important offices. Sometimes, the discretion is vested in a Minister, or a commissioner, or, as in this case, a board. If the Minister or the commissioner bo corrupt and dishonest, the law will be administered in an evil and onesided manner, and no good will come out of it. I do not admit that that is likely to be the case in this instance. I merely say that the various acts which have vested the discretion in a Minister, commissioner or board are not bad laws, and should not be repealed simply because they have been improperly or dishonestly administered. There is a good deal in the historic saying, “I do not care who makes the laws, so long as I have the authority to administer them “. Any law that is dishonestly or corruptly administered by a corrupt government will be a failure; but that is not to say that the Parliament which approved the law, or which has tolerated regulations, is in itself bad, and that the regulations should be disallowed. The remedy is to replace the persons who administer the law. I have not applauded all the regulations that the Government has promulgated. Many of them, I have openly condemned.
– What about Statutory Rule No. 77?
– I condemned it.
– The honorable member did not vote against it.
– I was confined, through illness, to my bed.
– The honorable member avoided the House like he would a plague until the debate had concluded.
– If my vote against the statutory rule would have meant the defeat of the Labour Government and its replacement by an administration that included the honorable member for Barker and his friends, I should have reluctantly made my choice in favour of the lesser of two evils.
The right honorable member for Kooyong made the personnel of the Women’s Employment Board the main ground for his attack on the statutory rule, and I contend that he failed to convince the House. Some of his statements were, to my knowledge, unjust and incorrect. As to the remainder of his charges which relate to matters that are not within my knowledge, I am prepared to trust the Minister and to judge, by results, the operation of the statutory rule. It was argued and restated by the honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Fawkner that the effect of these regulations is to deprive women of the right to approach the Arbitration Court. The honorable member for Moreton stated that the regulations sabotaged the court, and claimed that this was the first step by the Minister - I do not know how he will do it unaided and alone, although he is such a powerful Minister - to override and destroy the policy of arbitration. But there is a war in progress. We are being told so regularly in this House and elsewhere with too much dreadful reiteration, I suggest. Every body knows that the war has created and will create, though for no longer than its duration, I hope, the problem of man-power. From every vocation huge drafts of men are being taken for military service or to make munitions; and work which can be done by women is, to a large degree, now being so performed. A very striking illustration of that is one which daily excites my interest, namely, the employment of young women as conductresses an city buses. They are doing work which had hitherto been done by men only, and which after the war, we may assume, will be done by men only. But this is just the kind of case for which this statutory rule provides. All these regulations are excused on the ground of urgency and special circumstances. There is urgency. There are special circumstances. They must be recognized, and this Labour Government must make provision for them by an urgent and special kind of legislation in such a way that . the age-long tendency of the employer to exploit the interests of the employee will not be used during the war, to the detriment of those women who are now filling the places of men. That is the crux of the problem. Therefore, it is a subject,’ not for arbitration, but for quick action. The industrial tribunals are overworked, so they say. Their machinery, from the necessities of the case, is of a kind to be put in motion slowly, deliberately, and over a period of time ; but these cases must be dealt with readily and rapidly. In the instance that I cited, men have been replaced on the buses by women. They can do the work, and they are employed, quite rightly, at the same rate of pay as that which the men received. That standard has been maintained, and it should be jealously maintained, because not only in the hurly-burly, the hysteria and struggle of war, but also in time of peace, there are men on every hand who are always vigilant to see how much they can make out of extraordinary conditions. We know the go-getter when we meet him by the look in his eyes, the tone of his voice and the plausibility of his tongue, and we know that he belongs to a plentiful breed and that he re-appears in every war. That is why the Government has made provision for the safeguarding of the interests of women who are being brought into industry.. The right honorable member for Kooyong made a point as to the basic wage and the family unit. Se said that the basic wage was fixed as far back as 1907 on the basis of a man, a wife and three children, and seemed to argue that the payment of the adult wage to, say, the conductress of a. bus would be extravagant in such circumstances. That seems to be argument directed against the quantum of the wage. It is an argument with which [ can have not the slightest sympathy. What is the position of those particular employees? The man who was a bus or tram conductor is in the Army: He either has been called up compulsorily in Australia or has responded to the hectic appeals of Ministers and others to join the Australian Imperial Fore?, and has gone on what is vulgarly described as seven “ bob “ a day. Is it to be said that we should examine through a microscope the wages of a wife, who takes his place on a tram or a bus, in order to determine her family responsibilities? [Extension of time granted.’] Is it argued seriously and is it hoped that I shall accept the argument that the wages of employees of that kind should be reduced below the standard which we all recognize to be the minimum necessary to preserve life and health and frugal comfort? I reject the argument. Honorable members opposite assert that we are only offering lip-service to equal pay for equal work. The tribunals of this country, which we are supposed to be undermining, have never accepted the principle of equal pay for equal work. They have, as the Minister for Social Services pointed out, defined certain classes of occupations for which there should be a common standard wage, but they have never accepted the principle of equality of the sexes in regard to pay; and all the Government has done or refrained from doing is to disturb as little as possible the existing arbitration and wages board proceedings and provide a safeguard against “ sweating “ by stipulating the wage, within certain wide limits, that should be paid. More than that they have not done; nor have they expressed any opinion in these regulations upon the principle of equal pay for equal work. I cannot imagine that any one can dissent from the. principle that, if a woman does work as efficiently and with as great endurance and as well in all respects as a man, she should have equal reward for her labours. We all seem to be agreed on that, but it is not really an issue in this debate. The honorable member for Fawkner referred to the political bitterness created by the Minister for Labour and National Service and went on to say that he was’ satisfied that there was more industrial bitterness during the regime of the Minister for Labour and National Service than we have had for many years, and that it showed a tendency to increase. He had grave forebodings as to the consequences. I am not here to defend the Minister for Labour and National Service. He has shown an admirable capacity to defend himself. I do think, however, that it is true that, when serious attacks are being made upon a Minister and are continued in and out of this. House with vitriolic persistence, it is encumbent upon the head of the Ministry to defend his Minister and to state that the Government stands or falls by the policy of each Minister. That is implicit in Cabinet solidarity, but the Minister for Labour and National Service is well able to look after himself. There is a tendency in the minds of some people to imagine that this Parliament is a debating society in which only the very politest words are to be uttered in the most restrained way and in a manner which one would expect at a mothers’ meeting presided over by the curate. I cannot accept that view. This Parliament is an assembly where members are men and women have not yet been admitted as members - that is all I would say about that - but, at all events, where men speak what is in them. Politics is not an exact science; it is very inexact, and, if one compares the deliberations of this Parliament with the deliberations of some of the European parliaments, as we knew them when we did know them, our deliberations are models of sauvity and good manners.
– Is this to he taken as an apology for the Minister for Labour and National Service?
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has suddenly awakened, and he is at a disadvantage through not having listened to me when I was pointing out that the Minister for Labour and National Service was eminently suited to defend himself and required no assistance. So, by the grace of the House I wandered from the Minister to deal with a matter raised by the honorable member for Fawkner, namely, industrial bitterness. Then I went on to say that this was a democratic Parliament, or at least supposed to be, in which all honorable members expressed whatever they had in their minds. To that I added that politics was not an exact science. I have said all that I wish to say on this matter, and as the House has been good enough to grant me an extension of time to enable me to finish my remarks, I conclude by saying that in my opinion these regulations - I do not say that they are the only ones - should be preserved , that they are necessary for the protection of women in industry, and that they provide a means of dealing quickly with matters which require immediate treatment. For those reasons and others well expressed by honorable members on this side of the chamber, I intend to vote against the motion.
.- The subject-matter of the regulations, the disallowance of which has been moved by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) is of no mean importance. In fact, there are certain principles underlying these regulations which are of tremendous importance, and which, if observed, may make a tremendous difference to our industrial life and social structure. I intend, therefore, to deal with these regulations on broad lines and under definite headings. I wish, first of all, to say a few words in regard to the importance of the Department of Labour in these times and, with special reference to these regulations, the importance of the task confronting the Minister who is in charge of this department. For many years in this country the department handling labour affairs was under the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General’s Department. Apparently it was not considered sufficiently important to be anything more than an appendage of another department. When the war broke out, however, the importance of the industrial life of the country was recognized by the Government of the day. This war is truly a war of the machine shop, the worker and the industrialist, and when the Churchill Government assumed office in ‘Great Britain, the Department of Labour was elevated to one of first-class importance. It was placed under the control of one man who had for years been in close touch with the industrial life of that country, and who had tremendous prestige amongst the workers. I refer to Mr. Ernest Bevin. Some time afterwards, the Menzies Government created a separate Department of Labour, but even then the importance of that department was not sufficiently appreciated because it was not given high Cabinet priority. Yet it developed, and ha3 continued to develop, and to a large degree it has been responsible for the success of our war effort. Therefore, the selection of a Minister to control this department was a matter of no mean importance to this country when a change of government occurred some months ago. Above all, in dealing with labour matters at the present time, it should be the aim of the Minister for Labour and National Service and of his Government not to taint the industrial life of this country with anything suggesting partiality. Ever since his appointment, the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has posed as a veritable dove of peace; but his cooings are of a strange nature, unless it be that the ears of most members of this chamber, and indeed the ears of many people outside of Parliament, are not attuned correctly. For instance, the Minister visited the coal-fields with the intention of bringing peace to that vital industry, but there has not been very much peace since his visit, and I am afraid that, throughout industry to-day there is considerable uneasiness in regard to the statements and behaviour of the Minister and the regulations issued by him. Indeed, when the Minister rose to reply to the right honorable member for Kooyong last night, he made statements which were more likely to create acrimony and discord than industrial peace, and that is a matter of tremendous importance to this nation. The right honorable member for Kooyong spoke on broad lines when he submitted his motion, yet, in reply, the Minister made little reference to the arguments that had been advanced. Instead, he indulged in a practice that is becoming common to him. He raked up some document with the intention of imputing dishonesty on the part of some honorable members, their wives, or any one with the same name as honorable members on this side of the chamber. The reason for that is obvious. The Minister hopes that on some future occasion, when an honorable member is not present to refute the implications, he will be able to read out in this chamber statements which he considers will be of political value to his party. The Minister also read from a confidential document, and I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has since dissociated himself from that peculiar piece of behaviour. “We cannot expect the dignity and decorum of this House to be upheld by the Minister for Labour and National Service, hut neither can we expect the Prime Minister of this country to condone behaviour which tends to impair the dignity of this House at a time when the dignity of democratic institutions should be maintained. Silence is condonation. If such behaviour be disagreed with by the head of the Government it should he publicly exposed. Nothing tainted with partiality should emanate from any government department. ‘ Statutory Rule No. 146 provides for the establishment of a board to determine wages paid to females in industry, and regulation 5 under that rule specifically states that the board shall consist mainly of the chairman, a representative of the employees, and a representative of the employers. The composition of the board has already been mentioned by many honorable members.
It could be said that all three of the principal members of the board have certain political leanings. However, I do not wish to suggest that the chairman, Judge Poster, or, in fact, any of the members, will show political favour in the discharge of their duties; I hope that they will not do so. ‘ I do not wish to insinuate anything against the chairman, as another honorable member has done, because, of all our great democratic institutions, our legal system and our judiciary are amongst the most important. If the British people have given anything of value to the world, it is the British legal system. Any suggestion of incorrect, behaviour on the part of a judge, regardless of who he may be or of. his political tendencies, should be deplored whether it is made by an honorable member on this side of the House or by a supporter of the Government. However, when the employers’’ nominee is disregarded and a person of known political views and of long association with the Labour movement is appointed in his place, the circumstances are entirely different. The history of this appointment is worth repeating. On the 25th March last, a letter was sent from the Department of Labour and National Service to the employers’ organization asking it to select a person to represent the employers on this board. The letter was received on the 27th March. The employers’ organization pointed out at the time that, because it was a federal body, a certain time must, elapse before it could select a nominee but that, if one was required, urgently, it would choose a representative without delay. Apparently, there was no need for urgency. On the 11th April, the employers selected a nominee, and, on the 13th April, letters were despatched to the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister, notifying them of the choice. Neither of those letters was answered. One might condone that attitude on the part of the Minister for Labour and National Service, but it is strange that not even an acknowledgment was given by the Prime Minister, because this was a matter of great importance. Shortly afterwards it was stated in the press that
Miss Cashman, an erstwhile official of the Printing Industry Employees Union, and a known supporter of the Labour movement, had been appointed to this board as the employers’ representative. What would have happened had the parties represented on this side of the chamber been in power and had sent a letter to the trade union movement asking it to appoint a representative to serve on such a board, and the Government had not only failed to answer the letter in which a nomination was made, but also had appointed somebody like Mr. Essington Lewis. Mr. Myer, or the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) to he the employees’ representative? The trade unions and their representatives in this Parliament would rightly have risen in protest against such a procedure. They would have said : “ This is partiality with a vengeance; this is political trickery; this introduces politics into the composition of a board whose jurisdiction is of great importance”. We could expect a tirade of abuse from honorable members opposite, and we would deserve it. If such appointments are to have the taint of political partiality, we shall have trouble in industry when peace is most urgently required.
I refer now to the principle underlying these regulations. Some honorable members have occupied a considerable amount of time discussing whether women should receive the same wages as men for equal work. That is not the chief principle embodied in these regulations. The principle about which we are concerned is whether the Arbitration Court should be the arbiter as to the rates of pay of men and women in industry. If industrial affairs are to be dragged into the political arena, justice will disappear and chaos will result. That is the point which we wish to emphasize. Our social and economic structure may be changed, and changed adversely, if the Arbitration Court’s decisions regarding wages for men and women arc to be overridden. After this war, when we hope to have a new world in which trade will flow more freely than in the past, costs of industry in Australia will be of tremendous importance. The influence of the costs of secondary production on those of primary industries will be very great. We say that politicians should not handle this problem. Only the recognized arbitration courts should do so, because they are qualified to do so by their knowledge and experience of economic conditions. So I say that these regulations bespeak partiality, and undermine arbitration, which is one of the most precious gems in Australia’s crown. By making political appointments, the Government is likely to disturb industrial relations, at a time when the greatest degree of co-operation should exist between employer and employee. Nothing could have a greater tendency to disturb such cooperation than partisan political appointments to boards, the main purpose of which is to undermine the established principle of arbitration in this country.
.- in reply - As the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) is present, I take the opportunity to present in a few sentences what I believe to be the essence of the case that has been presented. It has been admirably summarized by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson). It does not turn upon what wage ought to be paid to a woman for doing a particular job. That problem will be determined, not by this Parliament, or any member of it, but by whatever tribunal is set up to deal with the matter. I did not open a discussion on that subject. -I alluded to the fact that this tribunal was told to take certain things into account when fixing the wages of women, but not the element of family or other responsibilities, which is considered only by the Arbitration Court. It is quite misleading to assert that any honorable member on this side has offered a. view as to what the answer ought to be to the question of what should be women’s wages in any industry. The attack against the regulations is launched on two grounds. The first ground is, that they take from the Arbitration Court one of its functions. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) has quite truly pointed out - I believe that I stated it in my opening speech - that that is not without precedent. It occurred in the case of the coalmining industry, for what seemed to be very good reasons. I took exception, not to putting a particular industry under the control of a special industrial tribunal - because, in some circumstances, as in respect of coal, that seems to be a very good thing ; indeed, as honorable members know, I did it myself - but to the separation of a problem which runs, or may ultimately run, right through industry, namely, the employment of women, from the general treatment of the industry by the Arbitration Court. For better or worse, that is the point that is made ; and it is one that I commend to the consideration of the Government.
The second point made was in relation to the board that has been set up. A good deal of discussion has taken place - some of it, unfortunately, a little heated - on the subject of alleged political appointments to the bench of the Arbitration Court and other judicial tribunals. That matter is commonly discussed. As a man who is not without legal and political experience, I should like to state my view in respect of it. I consider that, if a man is appointed to any bench, not because of his supposed judicial qualities but because of his political services, that is a false appointment. But I should be the last person to say that, because a lawyer who is distinguished in his profession chooses to offer his services to the people in the interests of any political party in Parliament, he is to be disqualified thereafter from occupying a judicial office. On the contrary, public service, honestly performed, in any cause, far from being a disqualification, is rather a qualification for the work of a judge. Consequently, I detach myself from all this argument about political appointments, and concentrate on the one real question, which does not concern the chairman of the tribunal or my friend, Mr. Wallis. I said in opening that there is no man occupying a position in trade unionism for whom I have higher respect than for Mr. Wallis. I have had experience of him for many years. He is a zealous, able and honest man. As a champion of the view which he honestly holds, after many years’ experience, I would not wish for a better man. But the whole structure of this tribunal, on the face of it, was to be that of a chairman who was to be the impartial member, od the one side somebody who could put the view of the employee - ami no one will deny that Mr. Wallis is abundantly qualified to do that - and on the other side somebody who could and would put with equal force, understanding and zeal, the view of the employer. That, I submit, is a pretty fair account of the constitution of this tribunal. .1 ask the Prime Minister : if he were asked to-morrow, for the first time, to establish an industrial tribunal to deal with coalmining, would he really expect to produce in the coal-miners a sense of fair play and justice if he appointed a judicial chairman and two representatives of the owners, but no representative of the miners? That, in my opinion - and I have condemned strikes as vigorously a? anybody - would justify any sort of upheaval on the coal-fields. The coalminers would say: “These persons may. as individuals,’ be the best and most, honest in the world ; but the dice are loaded against us “. How can anybody imagine that any employer could go before this tribunal believing that he will get fair play and have satisfaction, whim it is constituted in this way? So I put this to the Prime Minister, in no sense of controversy, but as one who wants to see these things work: In my opinion, the right honorable gentleman would be well-advised to have a look at this matter himself, in order to consider whether, even at this stage, if these regulations continue to exist, he should not say to the employers : “ You have had your fight : Parliament has upheld these regulations.” - I am assuming that that is what will happen - “In the circumstances, I want you now to co-operate in the working of this thing, and to make a nomination of somebody who will adequately represent the point of view of the employers “. I know that the right honorable gentleman desires to be fair in this matter. I assure him that the more I have looked at it and its history, the less convinced have I become that there is any shred of fairness to be found in it. Consequently, I ask the House to reject these regulations ; and if the House does not do so - and one knows that things like that do happen occasionally - I ask the right honorable the Prime Minister to give his most earnest consideration to the matter, in the interest of harmony, equity and what is, perhaps, just as important, a proper sense of justice in the minds of those who will be affected by it.
Mr.Curtin. - This is a board to assess the value of women as replacing agents for men, chiefly in war industries.
– But not necessarily.
Mr.Curtin. - Not necessarily, but chiefly. How would the right honorable gentleman ensure that women would have amember of their own sex on the tribunal ?
– Why did not the unions make such a nomination?
Mr.Curtin. - It is useless to ask why the unions - or, for that matter, the employers - have not done something.
– My answer to the right ‘honorable gentleman’s question is this: If it seemed improbable that the trade union movement would itself nominate a woman as its representative, then I should not force the employers to be put in the position of being represented by a woman, but would have a tribunal of five.
– The number is five.
– The centre of the tribunal is a membership of three. Then, there are to be two experts, to be chosen according to the industry with which the tribunal is dealing. I was rather talking about the permanent element in the tribunal. I should have had a tribunal of five, of whom at least one was a woman.
Mr.Curtin. - On whom would the right honorable gentleman have imposed the obligation of providing a woman representative - on the employers or on the employees ?
– I should have imposed that obligation on the Government. With a tribunal of five members it should not be unfair to ask the Government to appoint, in addition to the chairman, two other members, who would be selected notbecause of their partisan outlook, but because of their competence to take a detached view.
Mr.Curtin. - The right honorable gentleman will, I think, acquit me of partisanship in this matter, but I remind him that Miss Cashman, once was appointed by his Government, as an officer of the Commonwealth Government.
– I do not recall that. I certainly was not aware of it.
Question put -
That the National Security (Employment of Women) Regulations under the National Security Act, made by Statutory Rules 1942. No.146,be disallowed.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. W. M. Nairn.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
FOSTARS Shoes Proprietary Limited - Unemployment - Impressment or Rifles - Binoculars and Ammunition - Censorship of “ Hansard “ - Mr. Brian PENTON : Proposed Lecture Tour of United States of America.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– As promised, I have laid on the table of the Library a report of the proceedings connected with Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited.
.- I draw the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to the growing number of persons in this country who are becoming unemployed by reason of the Government’s war policy. I am not blaming the Government for that policy, but I point out that its policy is depriving numbers of people of employment without putting them into other employment. I was interested to hear the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) say that the reports which had been presented by the various committees have been adopted by the Government. This matter has been dealt with in paragraph 11 of the second interim report of the Joint Committee on Social Security in this way -
The committee’s view is that, by government policy, all people capable of working are equally at the disposition of the Government. As the. committee understands it, the policy of the Government is that every person may lie called upon to do whatever the Government thinks fit. The obligation should not be unilateral. If “ A “, being unemployed, is to hold himself in readiness -to answer the Government’s call, he should bo maintained while he remains so ready. He should be paid on the same principle as the soldier is paid whether lie is fighting, training or resting. He should receive from the nation reasonable maintenance. Such maintenance should be related to his domestic obligations and his family needs. The payment” of any sum to “ A “ should be conditional upon his performing, at the appropriate rate of wages, such work as the Government might call on him to do. The withholding of maintenance from the head of a family should, of course, not deprive his dependants of maintenance.
In paragraph 13, the committee recommended a scale of benefits which would secure to a small family a wage of about £4 5s. or £4 10s. a week. That rate was based upon a scale of family benefits. In my opinion, the Government ought not to lose any time in making it clear to people who are being thrown out of work that they will be maintained by the Government until work is found for them. An obligation is imposed on all .people in the community to do such work as the Government calls on them to do, and therefore, in my opinion, the Government should provide them with reasonable maintenance until it finds work for them if its policy throws them out of employment.
.- I bring before the House some of the anomalies associated with the impressment of firearms and binoculars by the military authorities. I have received dozens of complaints on this subject and requests for the return, of firearms which have been taken over. I refer particularly to .22 repeating and automatic rifles which are useful only for shooting rabbits, parrots and small game. An automatic .22 rifle costs about £10. Other rifles which have been impressed are of .32, .44 and .25/35, which, because of the type of ammunition used can be of little use as defence weapons, although, perhaps, of some service for training purposes. These rifles have been retained by the military authorities, which have paid to their owners only about one-tenth or onetwelfth of their value. The following letter, which is one of many that I have received, so well expresses my own views on this subject that I shall read it: -
I am enclosing a cheque and voucher that has been sent to me in payment of a .32 octagon barrel Winchester repeating rifle.
As you no doubt know, a rifle of this description costs about £10, yet I am compelled to part with it for 15s.
I know all the arguments about it being needed for my defence, &a. and as far as that goes I would willingly give the rifle for nothing to help the war effort.
The point I am sore about is that if some person puts in £10 for a war bond they will later on get that £1.0 back plus interest, ye: I am asked to sacrifice a £.10 gun for 15s.
Is that justice? Already I have had nv wheat and wool taken from me at sacrifice prices.
When are we going to get this equality of sacrifice we hear so much of?
Human values should rank higher than money values, but if one section of the people who happen to have money can invest it in i lie war at interest, surely those who have, say, only a gun to invest, should get something like a value.
You can hand this cheque to our Prime Minister with my best wishes and may justice lung prevail.
T have before me the cheque sent to my correspondent for the princely sum of l”»s. as compensation for the loss of a : rifle worth £10. This is one of many hundreds of similar cheques sent to persons living in various parts of Australia.
– Who determines the valuation?
– Apparently the military authorities do that. The owner certainly has no voice in the matter. A similar position has arisen with regard io binoculars. I have yet to learn of any instance in which the owner of a pair of binoculars has received more than onesixth of their real value. For binoculars worth £75 sums of £9 10s. and up to £10 10s. have been paid, whilst for binoculars worth £35 the owners have received roughly £6, £6 10s. or possibly 67 5s. There may be some prospect of i he bi noculars being returned to their owners after the war, but what of the rifles, and particularly those rifles which F claim to be unsuitable for military use? The owners in many instances are crack .;hots, and derived part of their living by the use of their rifles. It is scandalous that a rifle of the description mentioned should be taken from the owner and only 15s. be paid by way of compensation. I urge that records be kept of the persons from whom firearms have been token, so that the weapons may be returned to their owners at the first opportunity. While the rifles are needed - and I have yet to learn that they are being used - I have no objection to their being retained by the authorities, but I object to their being broken up, or sold at the termination of the war to second-hand dealers, who would, no doubt, dispose of them for sums approaching their real value. At least some measure of justice should be meted out to the owners of the rifles. It may be taken for granted that men who pay from £10 to £14 for rifles know how to use them. If ever it became necessary to make use of them for defence purposes - I understand that many members of the Volunteer Defence Corps are not equipped with rifles - nobody in Australia could handle them more effectively than the actual owners. I hope also that the owners of binoculars that have been impressed will receive sums somewhere near their real value.
– I desire to clear up a misunderstanding regarding the censorship of a speech made by me in this House some time ago. I propose to refer to remarks made by you, Mr. Speaker, on Friday last in reply to a statement by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). According to the Hansard proof before me, you stated, inter alia -
Apparently, exception is taken to what was done in the case of a speech made by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen). It would be much more satisfactory if a complaint had come from the honorable member himself, because he knows the facts. The speech was made on a Friday afternoon. I told him that the greater part of his speech ought not, in my opinion, to be published, and that I proposed to confer with him afterwards in regard to it. He said that he was sorry he had to leave Canberra immediately, but would leave it to me to eliminate such parts of the speech as I thought fit. That was the substance of our conversation. Therefore, it is clear that I had his consent to do what I thought proper. I remember that the speech was packed with information that might be of use to the enemy. He was putting forward a plea for the development of power stations in areas west of the Blue Mountains. He prefaced his remarks with a quotation from a statement made by a Mr. Smith, who had said that most of the important power stations in New South Wales were situated in certain localities.
I have here the Hansard transcript of the speech that I made on that occasion. Referring to Mr. Smith, I said -
Twelve months ago, when the subject of decentralization of industry was under discussion, a deputation from one of the western towns waited on Mr. Smith, the Director of Gun Ammunition, and urged that annexes should be set up in the west for the manufacture of munitions, as a means of achieving decentralization, and of ensuring that the production of munitions would not be interrupted should the coastal areas be attacked. Mr. Smith replied in these words: “When the first shell falls on Sydney, Australia’s war effort will be finished”.
That is all that I quoted of what Mr. Smith said.
– It would be unwise to allow a statement of that sort to go outside Australia.
– I do not object to the elimination of that part of my speech, but I wish to clear up a misunderstanding. You, Mr. Speaker, are reported in Hansard as saying that I prefaced my remarks by quoting a statement by Mr. Smith that most of the important power stations in New South Wales were situated in certain localities. The fact is that Mr. Smith never said anything of the kind, and, as the transcript of my speech proves, I did not credit him with having done so. All I did was to draw certain inferences from what he said. I can understand that you would not remember the whole of my speech, but apparently something in the speech made a sufficient impression to induce you to consult me and suggest that a part of it should be eliminated. In the course of our discussion I suggested that you should eliminate only those parts in which I mentioned the names of localities where power stations are situated, and that you should do so without destroying the sense of the speech. As a matter of fact, the eliminations which you made completely destroyed the sense of the speech. Therefore, I contend that I did not agree to what was done, as you saidI did. Apparently, we ascribe different meanings to the word “ agree ‘’. I consulted the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), for whose legal knowledge I have a high respect, but he satisfied me that the claims which I have made to him could not be wholly justified, and for that reason I did not take any further action. I am not cavilling at your action in eliminating certain parts of the speech, but I think that you acted severely in regard to the quantity of matter which was eliminated. I have here a copy of the Report on Electrical Development in New South Wales, by Rendel, Palmer and Tritton, consulting engineers to the Government of New South Wales. The information conveyed in my speech was substantially the same as is contained in this report. If it were really necessary to eliminate so much of my speech, you ought, I think, to call the attention of the authorities to the availability of this report to the general public.
– I appreciate the fair attitude which the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) has taken up in regard to this matter. It is unfortunate that he was not able, at the conclusion of the sitting of the House on that day, to confer with me at length. I feel quite sure that had he been able to do so, we should have been able to reach as satisfactory an agreement as I have reached with other honorable members whose speeches have been - I shall not say censored - reviewed. It is quite correct, as the honorable member says, that elimination destroyed the effectiveness of the speech. I said before that the speech was very interesting. It gave a good picture of the situation. Its fault was that it conveyed too good a picture; it disclosed all too clearly our weakness in regard to power resources. I regret that any dissatisfaction should have been occasioned, but it arose from the fact that the honorable member was not able to confer with me.
.-I support the remarks of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick), who expressed the hope that the Army authorities would now be in a position to hand back to the owners all impressed rifles not in use. They are now in storerooms and not in use; and, therefore, will deteriorate. In any case, they would be of far greater value in the hands of owners who could put them to some use. However, I direct my remarks mainly to the system of making payments for rifles taken over by the Army authorities. The following is typical of many cases brought to my notice. Under instructions from the Army, a man handed over his 303 match rifle, which had a special sight. In due course, he received information that he was to be allowed £1 10s. for the rifle. The rifle was of special make, and the owner estimated its fair market value at £4 10s. I agree that that was a fair estimate. Following further inquiries, he was informed by the Army authorities that they were prepared to give him 12s. 6d. for the sight, but were unable to increase the price of £1 10s. for the rifle, because they had to adhere to the prices fixed under army instructions for rifles of that particular kind. It is most unfair that the Army should lay down arbitrary rates of- payment for articles which are impressed from civilians. The Defence Impressment Regulations prescribe that the fair market value be paid for articles taken over from civilians. It is quite clear, however, that the price fixed by the Army authorities in the instance I have cited was not a fair market price, that is, a price which a willing buyer is prepared to pay to a willing seller. Therefore, the Army authorities in laying down this arbitrary price are not only acting unfairly towards the owners of articles which are impressed, but also acting contrary to the regulations dealing with the impressment of such articles. 1 ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to look into this matter with a view to ensuring that owners of goods which are impressed shall receive a fair price for them.
Another feature of cases of this kind arises from the taking over of ammunition. This particular man had in his possession over 1,000 rounds of .303 ammunition. This was taken over with his rifle. The authorities refused to make any Daymen t for this ammunition on the ground that the man had no right to have it in his possession. The ammunition had come into this man’s possession long before the outbreak of the war. He had taken it over from a client in satisfaction of a bad debt. In any case, it was his property; and he had every right to possess it. Therefore, when the Army authorities took it over, they should have paid a reasonable sum for it. I place these facts before the Government in order to emphasize the principle that when the Army authorities impress any article, rifles, binoculars, or trucks, they should pay the fair market value of such articles, and not adhere to some arbitrary figure laid down by themselves.
– Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) a question concerning a proposed lecture tour of the United States of America by a Mr. Brian Penton. who is editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. To-day’s issue of that paper contains a long article which animadverts severely upon myself, and my distinguished colleague, the honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Falstein), and challenges us to repeat outside of Parliament the statements which were made in our questions. This man’s object is stated to be that he desires to bring an action for damages against the honorable member for Watson and me. In New South Wales, the truth of a statement is no defence in an action for defamation, unless it be shown that the statement was made for the public benefit. This would mean that, although the truth of our statements were proved, Mr. Penton might succeed. The balance being weighted in his favour under the law as it now stands, a jury might find that a repetition of these statements outside of Parliament was not for the public benefit. Juries in New South Wales are empanelled from among certain classes, and there are no common jurors in that State as is the case in Queensland. A common jury has tried actions for libel in Queensland only in recent years. In the other States of the Commonwealth, the position is different in many respects. If Mr. Penton will make an affidavit, or a statutory declaration, dealing specifically with each of the statements made against him, and unequivocally, and unreservedly, denying the truth of each of them, so that he can be prosecuted for perjury if his affidavit or declaration, be untrue, he will establish a reputation for decency which he has never yet possessed.
I raise the matter because it is of extreme public interest that any one leaving Australia to deliver a lecture tour, after consultation with the Government, hut allegedly without its approbation, will claim that in some way or other, his is the voice of Australia. The man concerned has written a number of novels ; and he claims to be something of an intellectual. With regard to his intellectuality, I should just like to make one or two observations. I have, in my possession, one of his books which commences with a description of a scene on a Christmas Day in Queensland. It is supposed to represent Australian life; and it progresses through hundreds of pages to tell the story of Australia as this gentleman views it. Here are some extracts from that work-
– Is the honorable member going to read the lot?
– I shall only need to read one or two extracts in order to convince even the most liberal-minded person in this Parliament and in the community that this so-called intellectual is nothing but a stupid moron.
– If the book is in the Parliamentary Library, there will be a terrible rush for it-
– As I anticipated that interjection, I do not intend to give the title of the work. Here are some extracts from it - “ Don’t talk to me, yon young jackanapes,” Cabell said, “ I’ll sec the bastard gets his deserts if I have to drag myself to court on crutches.” His face was blue and lopsided with contusions, his mouth fell on his bare gums and his brow was gone from his sound eye where the toe of Larry’s boot had flayed it.
He ranted round the room. “ His bitch of a mother robbed me of the only thing I’d ever loved. She poisoned Harriet’s mind against mo. Well, I’ll show her. If she’s got fifty thousand devils in league with her she can’t do any worse now.” “ How can you say it, sir ! “ James said shocked, “ Mother is dead.” “ Aye and damned.” “ You mean culture,” Mrs. Peppiott guessed. She was a big toadlike woman, with a pendulous, floppy toad gullet and a laborious toadlike way of breathing and a toadlike darting tongue and toadlike bulging eyes. “Spiritual things - music, poetry, the drama.” She turned her eyes up under eyelids crusted with tiny warts, just like a toad’s.
That purports to be a description of an Australian country woman. I quote .’mother extract -
A girl. There were three babies now. Larry watched his father fondling them. “ Harriet, that’s what we’ll call you little one” Cabell said, dandling the sickly newborn. “ And when you grow up we’ll send you Home to kiss the Queen’s hand and marry the handsomest man in England “… “ Your ma’s done her dash “, Gursey said. “ She won’t drop no more “. He was lying in his bunk wrapped up to the ears in blankets. His gums chattered with ague and the tie leapt up in the chalky skin hanging loosely on his skull …” But she never had more than one of her own kind and that’s you. These others - he’ll take care of them. You see. They’ll be Cabells. They won’t have the brand on them “. He lifted himself on his elbow and let the blankets fall. “Sec?” he said. “See the brand?”
Larry’s eyes widened, looking down on the thin shoulders calloused like the hide of a working bullock with the weals of many scourgings. “My mother!” he said, scandalized. “ They stripped her in the streets of Sydney and the mob stood round and watched her flogged. She was a real devil was Em Surface, your ma “.
That indicates the state of mind, and the standards of decency of the so-called intellectual who wishes to leave Australia for the purpose of lecturing on behalf of the people of this Commonwealth. I could recite many other typical extracts from his works, but I shall be content to quote from a book entitled, Think - Or Be Damned. It is explained on the front page that the book is a “subversive note on national pride, patriotism, and other forms of respectable ostrichism practised in Australia “. The flyleaf carries the following dedication: - “ Better a frank scoundrel than a pious humbug.” - Chinese proverb.
He is certainly a frank scoundrel. One extract from the book reads -
The wishful faith in the future of our country makes -me ask: “ What’s to he done? How can we wriggle out of this mess? What can we snatch from the garbage heap that still has life and precious dignity.
Vague questions to which the Bishop of Wangaratta and the secretary of the Waterside Workers’ Union would return very different answers, I realize. And, therefore, early in any hopeful sniffings around the womb of the future, I see that before we can discuss new orders, political reconstructions, trade adjustments, national aims, or any other quality of our days to come we must submit ourselves to an astringent, almost masochistic process of self-clarifying thought. Ill-mannered, cantankerous, unpatriotic, subversive and destructive thought, aimed to expunge from our national vocabulary every word, slogan or inflating poetic dictum which cannot be proved to have a meaning.
In this spirit, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, edited by Mr. Penton, carries on its fifth-column work in defiance of the censorship regulations. It mentioned the fact that there was a censorship, and commented on the censorship. By so doing, this newspaper and its editor rendered themselves liable to prosecution. No other newspaper in the Commonwealth has so flagrantly defied the censorship. An overt challenge to the Government was contained in the words “ censor or no censor, the views expressed in these articles are going to the United States of America “. I can imagine the state of mind of an American soldier who reads them. He will believe that the people of Australia have no desire to help him or his country, and it will not be unnatural for him to consider that it is not worth while fighting to help us. I assume that this person who wishes to leave Australia has been offered money by the isolationist group in the United States of America which owns and controls the Saturday Evening Post to preach on the other side of the world what he is writing here. I hope that the Prime Minister will not permit that to be done. I could have said a good deal more about this gentleman who writes sordid and morbid novels.
– The honorable member stated before that, Penton was not a gentleman.
– I apply the title only in a spirit of courtesy. I could have said a good deal more yesterday about Australia’s No. 1 pornographic artist and Australia’s James Joyce. I did not say as much then as I propose to say now. If he is what he claims to be, how comes it that a person who was charged recently in New South Wales with selling sly grog claimed in defence that the liquor belonged to Mr. Brian Penton? How comes it that this gentleman who claims to be a good Australian citizen and wants to speak in the United States of America on behalf of Australia recently permitted to be printed in the columns of the newspaper on which he is employed letters suggesting that old-age pensioners in Australia should be lethalized - in other words, murdered in the best-approved Nazi fashion? That the letters appeared in that paper is well known to many honorable members, and invalid and old-age pensioners’ organizations have protested bitterly against them. The man who permitted such letters to be published probably wrote them himself, because they were undoubtedly written in the newspaper office. Certainly no healthy-minded Australian would have written them. He should have been interned when the police raided his fiat. He should be interned now, because he is, without the slightest doubt, a Fascist menace. I suggested this morning that he ought to be placed in a labour battalion, but I shall not persist with that idea, because of the effect that his presence would have upon decent Australian working men. A man who would write the things that he has written, do the things that he has done, and refuse to pay his debts, is a. degenerate. After his attacks on honorable members of this House and his efforts to set himself as a law above the law, his claim that he is a decent, honest citizen who wants to do a decent job strains the credulity of every honorable member. I urge the Prime Minister not to permit him to leave Australia, bad and all as he is inside this country. His proper place is not in a newspaper office, because his presence is a reflection on many decent journalists, who, in earning their living, have to associate with him, but in an internment camp. His mind is out of tune with the spirit of Australians, and I hope that the Prime Minister will not affront public opinion by permitting this man to obtain an exit permit and the necessary dollars to enable him to leave Australia. Dollar exchange is urgently needed by the Commonwealth for the purpose of purchasing ships and planes for our defence. The Government should keep him here, in a place where he can do no harm to the general public. What I have said about him is only a trifle of what could be said. All that I have done is merely to adumbrate the subject - an undesirable and putrid subject.
.- I desire to say a few final words on the matter of the censorship of honorable member’s speeches, to which the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) has referred. I should not like it to be thought that I am pursuing a vendetta against the Chair, either in the sense of attacking the speakership, or directing animadversions against Mr. Speaker. I am sure, sir, that you will not think so, because I should like to testify to my respect to your own person, and my confidence in your occupancy of your high office. We should as far as possible satisfactorily dispose of the matter. Replying to me last week, Mr. Speaker said -
When the honorable member says that the House should do its own censoring he is suggesting something that is quite impracticable.
I did not suggest anything of the kind. What I did say was that I thought it was pretty generally understood that censorship of members’ speeches should be effected by Mr. Speaker only on the direction of the House or with the consent of the honorable member, and that the latter course was quite clearly one which had been followed with success up to the present. I was pleased to hear Mr. Speaker state that -
As for the censorship in general, there is no censorship of Hansard . . . When observations are made in this House which are deemed by me, or by someone who may bring the matter to my notice, as likely to be of advantage to the enemy, I consult the honorable member who has made the observations and, with his consent, I excise those parts from Hansard.
That is entirely satisfactory. Mr. Speaker makes no alterations without consultation with and the consent of the person who makes the speech. That should continue to be the case until this House by resolution determines some other course, which, up to the present, this House has not done. The matter was quite satisfactory, therefore, up to the point at which the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) interposed and put a supposititious case, which was very rightly designated by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) as a hypothetical question, and one which, but for the fact that you answered it, I should think should not have been answered. But what the right honorable gentleman said was -
In the event of an honorable member making a deliberate and calculated statement which might be regarded as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and then refusing to give his consent to the elimination of such matter when called upon to do so, do you hold that the offending passage should remain in the record 1
There was only one possible answer to that question. Such statements should not remain in the records. But I point out that when an honorable member makes a speech that offends in that way he can only do so in the Parliament. If he makes it outside the Parliament he is subject to the ordinary law of the land, but within the Parliament he must make it within the hearing of Mr. Speaker and subject to Mr. Speaker’s right to challenge the propriety of his observations at the time, and, if the observations are not objectionable within the Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker can invoke the aid and direction of the House in support of his refusal to allow: such statements to be made. The question raised by the right honorable member for North Sydney was in its nature an affront to every member of Parliament. It suggested that a member of this Parliament would make a statement which was deliberately intended to aid the enemy. Such a suggestion should not be made and could not be made without involving a reflection upon every honorable member. But, if such an unlikely event should occur, the Chair can intervene at the time. Mr. Speaker can invoke the aid of the House to support him, and he can, in the event of it escaping attention at the moment, call upon the House to direct that the statement be not published. There are ample safeguards against the remote possibility of an honorable member acting traitorously in the interests of the enemy. But the unfortunate point in the right honorable gentleman’s intervention is that it led, I very respectfully suggest, to you, sir, intimating to the House that, in certain circumstances, you might be constrained to do something in excess of your duty and contrary to the practice of the House, that is, take it upon yourself, without consulting the honorable member concerned and without the direction of the House, to eliminate matter from Hansard. You concluded with the words, “ It is of no use having a referee unless he is empowered to give a decision “. I respectfully point out that on a matter such as this you have not been constituted a referee by resolution of this House, and that is the only way in which you can be so constituted. You are not a referee. The person, who makes a speech in this Parliament ‘is, subject to Parliament itself, and to its Standing Orders, the final arbiter as to whether his words should be published or should not. The sense of the House can be taken at the time or later to prevent the publication of matter which should not be published.
– I do not agree with the view of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the honorable member who makes a speech is the final arbiter as to whether it should or should not be published. In my opinion, the final arbiter is this House.
– I said that.
– Then we agree on that point. There is a practical side to it. Let us suppose that in to-day’s proceedings somethingwas disclosed which would appear to convey information of value to the enemy and, therefore, should be eliminated, and I could not obtain the consent of the honorable member concerned to its deletion. Does this House expect that I must remain inactive and allow the statement to appear in Hansard? I think not. The publication of Hansard must go on. If the honorable member for Batman were right, any matter, however offensive it might be, must appear in Hansard. The supervision of Hansard in this respect must be done by Mr. Speaker, who is in charge of the House. He is responsible to the House, and in the first instance must decide whether certain matter should or should not appear in Hansard. Mr. Speaker is, for the time being, in the position of a referee and must give his decision. That decision, like every other decision by Mr. Speaker, is subject to confirmation or otherwise by the House. Therefore, if I should eliminate something, to the deletion of which an honorable member could not agree, I should still delete it, because I would consider it my duty to do so. My action would be open to challenge and to correction if I should be wrong. I believe that that is the correct attitude to adopt, and I shall continue to adopt it, subject to direction by the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired - For Defence purposes -
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Parkes, New South Wales.
House adjourned at 4.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Mr.Rosevear asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What firms are acting as agencies for the disposal of civil lease-lend goods in Australia?
Has the list of such agencies been closed?
On what financial terms do these agencies operate?
What was the method of choice of such agencies?
Were any offers to act as agents rejected; if so, why?
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and. Customs, upon notice -
Mr.Beasley. - The Minister for Trade and Customshas supplied the following answers: -
Mr. W. J. Smith.
Mr.Calwell asked the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
Is it a fact that as a result of a question asked in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly concerning the alleged actions of Mr. W. J. Smith, of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, a police report on the matter was obtained by the Attorney-General of that State?
Is it also a fact that for some reason or other the New South Wales Government does not propose to disclose the nature of that report?
In view of the fact that Mr. Smith holds a high executive post in the Munitions Department, will he take immediate action to ascertain what the report contains?
If it is found that the report contains information affecting Mr. Smith, will he seek permission to lay a copy of it on the table of the House?
n. - Efforts will be made to obtain a report in respect of these matters.
Mr.Langtry asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When will the Mortgage Bank legislation be brought before Parliament?
Will he treat the matter as urgent in the interest of all primary producers, especially the wheat-growers, owing to the fact that the price received by wheat-growers is not returning more than 2s.6d. or 2s. 7d. a bushel?
Will he see that interest on all overdrafts advanced by the Mortgage Bank will not exceed 2 per cent.?
Mr.Chifley. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Negotiations are proceeding with the Commonwealth Bank, and I hope to bring down legislation at an early date.
Clothes Rationing : Compensation of Displaced Employees.
Mr.Curtin. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) asked a question relating to the payment of grants to persons who lose their employment owing to the rationing of clothes. I now desire to inform the honorable member that the Government has decided, as a temporary expedient, to make ex gratia payments to disemployed persons. The qualification for assistance includes -
The possession of cash or liquid assets exceeding £100 in the case of a married man, and £50 in the case of a single man, will disqualify a claimant from benefit.
Married male unemployed persons under 21 years will have the same rate of allowance as adult unemployed persons, viz., £2 per week. Where husband and wife living together are both disemployed and entitled to allowance, the total assistance for husband and wife will not exceed £3 5s. per week.
Assistance will not be given until a person has been unemployed for fourteen days and the maximum period of assistance will be three months.
Promulgation of Regulations.
Mr.Curtin.- On the 27th March, 1942, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) asked whether the Government would arrange to publish in the press simultaneouslywith the issue of regulations, information indicating the authorities who are empowered to adjust any matter or furnish advice in relation to such regulations.
I desire to inform the honorable member that instructions have been issued that in the preparation of any press statements in connexion with National Security or other regulations a reference is to be made to the Minister by whom the regulations are administered and an indication given that any inquiries or representations concerning the regulations should be addressed to the department administered by that Minister.
Postal Department: Mail Branch.
Mr.GeorgeLawson. - On the 14th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
Is it a fact that several registered bookmakers and bookmakers’ clerks are employed in the Mail Branch, Melbourne; if so, how many of each class are employed?
Was a special shift, from 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. introduced on Saturday mornings for the benefit of such employees so that they could participate in race-course activities?
Has a new shift of five days, Monday to Friday, been introduced so as to avoid incon- venience to these employees in the pursuit of their race-course activities?
Has permission been sought of the Public Service Board to permit these employees to engage in outside business or employment?
Is it a fact that the Registered Bookmakers Association (a) advise their members to secure employment in the Mail Brand), Melbourne, as this, being a reserved occupation, will enable avoidance of the call-up for service under Man-power Regulations; and (6) advise them that the association will negotiate with Postal Department officials for the acceptance of association members as prospective employees ?
Is it a fact that a paragraph, published in the turf newspaper Circle intimated that contact could be made with Melbourne bookmakers in the Mail Branch, Melbourne?
What was the number of employees in the three sections of the Mail Branch, Melbourne, viz., Inland, Ship and Registration during the periods (a) 1st February, 1941, to 30th April, 1941; and (?>) 1st February, 1942, to 30th April, 1942?
What was the total aggregate number of hours of overtime worked by employees in each of those sections of the Mail Branch, Melbourne, during the periods mentioned?
What was the total number of postal articles handled in each of those sections of the Mail Branch, Melbourne, during the periods mentioned?
Is it a fact that leave for physical fitness purposes is denied to employees of the Mail Branch, Melbourne?
Is it a fart thai a senior supervisory officer has been granted leave for physical fitness purposes?
Can it be stated when employees of the Mail Branch, Melbourne, will be granted leave for physical fitness purposes?
The honorable member was informed that the questions had been brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General, and that replies would be given as early as possible. I have now received from the Postmaster-General the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Inquiries which have been made reveal that a number of men employed in a temporary capacity in the Mail Branch, Melbourne, are registered as bookmakers and bookmakers’’ clerks, namely, seven and four, respectively.
and 3. No.
In view of the disclosure referred to, the question of these temporary employees being permitted to engage in outside business is being taken up with the Public Service Board. 5. It is not known whether the Registered Bookmakers Association has advised its members to this effect. It is pointed out. however, that no negotiations of the character referred to have been conducted between the association and the department. (. No such paragraph has come to the notice of responsible officers of the department.
A statement is appended giving the information sought by the honorable member:
FOSTARS Shoes Proprietary Limited.
y. - On. the 29th April, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked me the following questions, without notice, in connexion with the proceedings against Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited : -
I ask the Minister acting for the AttorneyGeneral whether ho is aware that Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited, and the management of that company, have been found not guilty on all counts before a police magistrate, a Supreme Court jury, and the High Court, and this despite the full powers of prosecution vested in the Crown by this Parliament, which provided for the laying of retrospective charges, and the placing of the onus of proof on the defendant? Will the Minister make a full report to the House on all the circumstances associated with the trial, and the failure of the Crown case? Will he inquire into certain evidence tendered at the trial, but not allowed by the judge, relating to a gramophone record purporting to be a record of an interview between a departmental inspector and the manager of Fostars. Will the Minister state whether the inspectors responsible for the laying of the charges are still in the employment of the Government, and whether Inspector Gill has been restored to his former position as Chief Inspector in New South Wales?
In reply, I informed the honorable member that I was aware of the decision of the court and that I would obtain a full report from the Solicitor-General on the matter and make the report available. I have now obtained the report in question and propose to lay it on the table of the Library, in order that it may be available to honorable members. The answers to the specific questions asked by the honorable member are as follows : -
Fostars Shoes Proprietary Limited was not charged before the Supreme Court. The company was charged before the High Court at Sydney (hearing lasted fifteen days) and before the Court of Petty Sessions, Sydney (hearing lasted 39 days) on separate charges under section 73e of the Defence Act, on which charges the company was acquitted. The charges were laid under legislation which acted retrospectively.
A full report of the proceedings is- contained in the Solicitor-General’s report to me.
A gramophone record which made allegations against departmental officials was referred to by the managing director of the company before the High Court, but the presiding justice ruled that same was not admissible in evidence.
The Attorney-General laid the indictments in the High Court and directed the institution of the proceedings in the Court of Petty Sessions. The Minister for the Army should be referred to in regard to the position of the inspectors in question. They are under his control.
Issue of Pamphlet.
n. - On the 8th May, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked the following question, without notice: -
Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a pamphlet entitled The Rationing of Money, written by Mr. C*. Dc Garis, and dated the 30th April, 1942T If so, does he not consider that this is an infringement of the order gazetted on the 17th March prohibiting the use of paper for the issue of pamphlets? Will the Minister say whether Mr. Dc Garis was given a permit to issue the pamphlet, and, if so, why the permission was given?
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following answer : -
Application for permission to print the pamphlet in question was made by the printer concerned. It does not appear from a perusal of a specimen copy of this pamphlet that an infringement of the provisions of the recently promulgated Metal Foil and Paper Order No. 17 has occurred. This order was designed primarily to ensure an economic use of paper in the printing of books and pamphlets generally and this particular pamphlet appeared to conform well with requirements. Under such circumstances, no objection was raised to the granting of the authority as requested.
Statute of Westminster.
y. - On the 7th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked me whether the bill to ratify the Statute of Westminster would be introduced this session.
I am now in a position to state that the necessary bill to ratify the statute has been drafted and its introduction during the current session will receive consideration.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 May 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1942/19420521_reps_16_171/>.