16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have been approached by the Manilla branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association in regard to the transport of the coming season’s harvest of wheat to silos and railheads. Can the Minister for Supply and Development make a clear and definite statement of the position with respect to the supply of fuel - either kerosene or petrol - to carriers, in order that the position may be clarified?
– A number of inquiries of a similar nature have been made to the Department of Supply and Development since provision had to be made for the transport of the harvest.
It has been necessary for the department to make a very close investigation in order to organize the transport facilities. I should like honorable members to understand that the fuel problem is a difficult one, and that it has to be administered firmly because the possibilities of the future arenot capable of being reliably estimated. The Department of Commerce has endeavoured to meet the position by setting up in New South Wales 31 district war agricultural committees, consisting of a chairman, who is usually a representative of the Agricultural Department for example, the Chairman of the Land Board a practical farmer, and a local business man. The main purpose served by these committees is to inform the Government in regard to man-power and production problems generally. I propose to endeavour to link the work of the committees with that of the local transport committees, so that we may bring to bear upon the problem all the available practical knowledge in respect of the need for extra supplies of fuel, and obtain a close-up picture of genuine cases, in order that the harvest may be shifted. It is hoped that the action taken will enable the transport needs of the various districts to be adequately catered for, and that the system will be so organized that wool and wheat may be readily shifted. I am given to understand that delivery to wheat silos has been extended. So far as is practicable, the matter is being kept under control. I suggest that the honorable member should invite the Manilla branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association to bring its difficulties to the notice of the nearest District War Agricultural Committee.
– In view of the changed conditions in connexion with the distribution of, and the restrictions on, food supplies, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior consider the removal of the prohibition against theentry of meat into Canberra?
– I shall convey the question to the Minister for the Interior, and advise the honorable member later.
– Is the Attorney
General aware that yesterday afternoon the Melbourne Herald, under the heading “ Sweeping Commonwealth power asked; post-war plans “, published the following: -
Canberra.- ‘Addition to new section “ War Aims and Post-war Reconstruction “, to form part of Chapter 1 of the Federal Constitution, which contains the principal existing powers of the Commonwealth Parliament, is proposed in the Constitutional Amendment Bill introduced into the House ofRepresentatives by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) today.
As this legislation was not introduced into this Parliament until after 9 o’clock last night, does not the right honorable gentleman consider that the publication of his speech in detail to the reading public, before it was made to honorable members of this House, was an act of grave discourtesy ? Can the right honorable gentleman explain how this occurred? Will he take steps to prevent a recurrence of such discourteous treatment in future?
Br. EVATT. - I assure the House that no discourtesy was intended. I followed the usual practice when I released a copy of my introductory speech to the press at. a certain time. I am quite sure that the explanation is, that it was expected that the speech would be delivered early in the afternoon. I take full responsibility for having followed the practice ordinarily adopted by Ministers in this regard.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs in a position to announce whether an arrangement has yet been made between Australia and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics in regard to an exchange of diplomats?
– I am not at present in a position to make a public announcement. As the honorable member, and the House generally, know, negotiations are still proceeding with the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
Motion (by Mr.Curtin) proposed -
That theHouse, at its rising, adjourn to
Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
. -I should like the Prime Minister to inform the House whether there is a special reason which would prevent the House from meeting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, in order to complete next week the work that has to be done? The longer adjournment will be somewhat inconvenient to a number of members, who will not be able to return to their States and consequently will have to remain in Canberra during the intervening period. I hope that some consideration will be shown to them. It is always wise to make an early commencement when one does not know how long the completion of a matter in hand will take.
.- I differ from the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell). During the last fortnight, honorable members have been working 22 hours during each day. If the House must sit next week, by meeting on Wednesday an opportunity will be afforded for a certain measure of relaxation. I hope that wise counsels will prevail and that, when the House adjourns this afternoon, it will not meet again until next February.
– in reply - I am asking the House to meet next Wednesday in order that it may be less inconvenienced than it would be if it were to meet on Tuesday. I endeavoured yesterday afternoon to ascertain as well as I could what was most important, and finally came to the conclusion that as, four or five weeks ago, I commenced the proceedings of this sessional period by making a statement about the war situation, I should again place the position before honorable members prior to their dispersal, even though that might involve a private meeting of the members of both Houses. I desire to do that in proper form. I say quite frankly that I first need one day’s complete detachment from the parish pump, so that I may be able to bring my mind clearly to bear upon the outstanding problems of the country. I wish to be ready with this statement when the House reassembles, so that undue inconvenience may not be caused by my having to ask honorable gentlemen to remain in Canberra longer than would otherwise be necessary. I propose that the debate on the Statute of Westminster shall be continued on Wednesday.
– Why not on Tuesday?
– With very great respect, 1 have already told the honorable member for Darwin that I wish to review the international situation before I compose the statement.
– I understand that. But why can that not be done on Tuesday? The Statute of Westminster is not a “ parish pump “.
– Quite frankly, in view of the remarks that have been passed pro and con, I consider that all of us need a little time for stocktaking.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Payment of Allotments to Dependants
– In the absence of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), I ask the Prime Minister whether he will review the decision in regard to the method of payment of military allotments to dependants of members of the military forces? In a communication that I have received from the Minister for the Army, that honorable gentleman has stated that he regrets that he is not disposed to alter the present arrangement, under ‘which payment is made at post offices. He has intimated that this practice was adopted because it was believed to be in the interests’ of the payees. Will the Prime Minister permit the payees to resolve the question for themselves, and give to them the privilege now enjoyed by old-age pensioners, of determining whether they shall receive their payments by cheque or at a post office?
– I shall bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for the Army immediately I have an opportunity to do bo.
Rationalization - Levy foe Publicity and Research.
– Yesterday, the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), in the course of a statement concerning the handling of wool, mentioned two points from a plan that had been submitted to the Central Wool Committee. Although asked to do so, the honorable gentleman was not prepared to state the remaining points of the plan. I now ask him whether he will inform the House of the whole of the plan submitted to the Central Wool Committee? If it be not available at the moment, and he cannot state it from memory, will he table it during the course of the day for the information of honorable members?
– Yesterday, I announced two of the decisions reached by the Production Executive, which is a Cabinet body. The honorable member is asking me to table Cabinet decisions, and I do not propose to do so.
– In view of the fact that the Minister for War Organization of Industry yesterday ignored my suggestion that, in connexion with the rationalization of the wool growing industry, an advisory committee consisting of two representatives of the wool growers organizations and one representative of the Australian Workers Union should be appointed to co-operate with the present advisers of the Minister, will the Prime Minister examine my suggestion with a view to its adoption?
– I have not the least doubt that the Minister for War Organization of Industry examined that proposal. I am quite sure that if he has any doubt at all about the wisdom of his decision he himself will review it.
– Will the Minister for Commerce furnish information as to how much of the levy of 6d. a bale on wool for the alleged purpose of publicity and research has been expended on publicity and research and how much has been, expended on trips around the world by interested persons? Does the Minister consider that it is necessary to maintain the levy in view of the fact -that there is no opportunity for publicity or pushing sales of wool anywhere in the world?
– I shall investigate the matter and make public all the information asked for. I shall ascertain whether it is necessary for the duration of the war to continue the levy which was imposed originally to enable the “Wool Board to carry out the publicity and research referred to by the honorable member.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House concerning what action, if any, hu proposes to take regarding stoppages in the coal-mining industry, to which I referred this week. Is the Prime Minister aware that 700 miners were on strike yesterday; that, according to newspaper reports, nearly 7,000 tons of coal was lost in New South “Wales last week because of strikes; that the Bulli mine was idle for the ninth successive working day; and that, at. Hebburn No. 1, wheelers struck as a protest against miners having held a pit-top meeting? If the Prime Minister is aware of these occurrences, will he take appropriate action to put an end to them?
– Prosecutions are pending in certain cases, but I do not propose to state here what those cases are. Before the Crown institutes proceedings, it has first to ascertain the facts, insofar as it can establish them as facts, and then it must set in motion the ordinary processes of the law. That must be done with due regard to the decencies that are normally observed in regard to proceedings which may result in the conviction and punishment of citizens. I regret that, upon occasion, some mine proprietors, but not all, and some miners, but not all, could behave better than they do. thus making prosecutions unnecessary.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact that more coal has been lost to the nation through the inability of the ‘Government to provide railway rolling-stock than has been lost through strikes or stoppages? I refer particularly to the big mines of the J. and A. Brown group, which for a week were without railway facilities for transporting coal.
– I could obtain the exact figures for the honorable member; but it is true that more tons of coal have been lost on certain days through causes other than stoppages by workers, due to the incapacity either of the country or the employers to carry on operations. The coal-mining industry, and, for that matter, industry generally would work more smoothly if less propaganda were injected into it.
– In view of the fact that the net profits for the last trading year of the Myer Emporium Limited, as disclosed yesterday, indicate a decline of only £60,000, will the Minister for Trade and Customs review the decision of the Prices Commissioner that the excess profits amounting to £250,000 made by that company since the war began should be refunded to the public in the form of reduced prices over a period of two trading years? Seeing that, at the present rate of profit decline, it will take four years to refund the excess profits to the public, will the Minister consider the suggestion that the difference between £60,000 and £250,000 be paid into Consolidated Revenue ?
– The honorable member’s question refers to the rate at which excess profits earned by the Myer Emporium Limited are being returned to the public in accordance with the decision of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I shall have the matter looked into, and, if necessary, more stringent terms will be imposed.
– Is it a fact that the Prices Commissioner took the view that the Myer Emporium Limited had committed only a technical breach, and for that reason dealt with the case in the way he did? Is it also a fact that, of the eleven directors of the Myer Emporium Limited, seven served in the last war and one in this war? Will the Minister for Supply and Development see that the Minister for Trade and Customs makes a full statement, on the subject, so that these gentlemen shall not suffer from an unwarranted slur cast upon them by honorable members opposite.
– The excessive prices charged by the Myer Emporium Limited covered a great many transactions, in each of which the price might have been a mere fraction above the proper figure. I have been informed that it was not possible to institute proceedings in respect of those transactions, so the ‘Commissioner for Prices decided that the total profits of the company should be reduced by a certain amount. However, I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and put the honorable member’s suggestion before him.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Breen be appointed to serve on the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
– Has the Minister for Supply been informed of the inconvenience caused to many farmers through the closing of petrol depots at small, but important, villages, so that farmers have to travel many miles to obtain petrol? Would not a great saving of petrol and man-power be effected by retaining such depots to which one large petrol truck could deliver supplies, instead of forcing dozens of farmers to travel ten to twenty miles for petrol ? Will the Minister give further consideration to the appeal of the farmers for the retention of the depots?
– In answer to a previous question on this subject a few days ago, I explained the system which had been introduced for the pooling of supplies and the centralizing of depots. It is possible that this system has occasioned some hardship, and I believe that it should now be examined with a view to discovering whether we are not losing more than we have gained. After the scheme has been in operation for a while it is the duty of the pooling committee to examine the position and see how it is working out.
– Some one should keep a check on the committee. ‘
– I agree. I am now giving it the straight tip that it should review the operation of the system.
– Is it correct that, under the system of pooling petrol supplies, many garage bowsers in the city and country are empty, so- that the pumps are deteriorating and storage space for many millions of gallons of petrol is going to waste?
– It is true that, under the pooling system, many garages will be closed down, but that was the reason for introducing the system. The Army authorities hold strong opinions on this subject. They believe that there should not be dotted all over the countryside petrol supplies that might be available to an enemy.
– I was ref erring to garages outside the danger area.
– I cannot believe that if petrol were stored at garages, it would not be used. An opportunity will be given for the disposal of petrol already in the tanks. Unfortunately, the new system must adversely affect a large number of petrol re-sellers, but I see no way in which that can be avoided.
– Is it a fact that, under the pooling scheme recently instituted by the Department of Supply and Development, the commission of 2d. a gallon which the major oil companies paid to the’ resellers of petrol, is to be retained by them? If so, is there any particular reason why they should become major beneficiaries under the scheme which the Government has inaugurated for the defence of the nation?
– I am not aware of the matter raised by the honorable member. It is not quite correct to say that the Government inaugurated the scheme, as it is now laid down, for to admit that would be to admit the point that the honorable gentleman has raised, and I do not propose, at this stage, to do that, because I have not the facts. The whole purpose of the pooling scheme is ito conserve man-power, time, and fuel, and to centralize control in the most practical and beneficial way possible. I shall examine the matter raised in the honorable member’s question.
– And reply next week?
– With pleasure. I shall let the honorable member have the facts.
– Has the Attorney General received a letter from the Constitutional Association of New South Wales in these terms-
– Does this letter contain expressions of opinion on a matter that is to come before the House?
– I am asking the AttorneyGeneral whether he received the letter.
– If the letter deals with a subject which is to come before the House it should not be referred to now. If the honorable member will give me his copy of the letter I shall be able to rule upon it.
A copy of the letter having been handed to Mr. Speaker,
– The letter expresses an opinion upon a subject which is to be discussed by Parliament, and therefore may not be referred to now.
– I rise to a point of order. I suggest, with great respect to you, sir, that it was impossible for you, during the time you looked at the letter, to find out what it contained.
– I received a copy of the same latterby post this morning, and knew very well what its contents are.
– I ask the Attorney General whether under the Black Marketing Act it will be possible to divert to the Treasury to assist the war effort the excess profits amounting, I understand, to millions of pounds, which various firms throughout Australia have been ordered by the Prices Commissioner to refund to the general public?
– The Black Marketing Act applies only to offences committed after the act is passed.
Site fob Distillery in Victoria.
– I ask the Minister for Supply and Development whether the Government of Victoria, at the request of the Commonwealth, recommended a site for the establishment of a power alcohol distillery in that State, which recommendation was not adopted, and whether the Commonwealth Government then set up a committee of experts whose recommendation similarly was not adopted? What was the reason for the adoption of the site selected by the Commonwealth Government? Will the Minister table the file relating to the transaction.
– The Government of Victoria recommended no less than fifteen different sites. The distillery could not be erected in fifteen different places. It is true that a committee was appointed. It also made a number of selections. It is equally true that the Commonwealth Government exercised its power to make the final choice. We do not surrenderauthority to any department, to any State Government, to any committee, or to anybody else. The choice was made, and I do not propose to lay any of the papers on the table.
– Will the Minister table the report of the special committee ?
– That committee nominated a large city in Victoria as the site for the distillery. That was contrary to the Government’s policy of decentralization.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior make representations that there should be some expedition in the payment of compensation for land acquired by the Government for military purposes? I received to-day a letter from the owner of a stud property in New South Wales who says that his property was taken over by the Government on the 21st February last. The property is of considerable dimensions and has wide repute as a stud farm.Since then he has seen no sign of the Government making any settlement or enabling him to carry on his activities as a studfarmer.
– I shall place the honorable member’s question before the Minister for the Interior. Under previous governments cases came to my notice in which the delay was much greater than in the instance cited by the honorable member.
– Has the Attorney General been acquainted with certain developments in connexion with the Statute of Westminster? Has he been advised, as I have been, in the terms of the following telegram: -
Splendid leading article today’s Argus-
– Order ! The second reading of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Bill is set down for today, and any attempt to anticipate that debate by expressing opinions, especially those of outside persons, is out of order.
– My question will, therefore, not refer to the Statute of Westminster. Has the AttorneyGeneral been advised, as I have been, by the general secretary of the Australian Natives Association, Melbourne, in the following terms : -
Splendid leading article today’s Argus, Association taking strong steps support attitude affirmed therein.
Question not answered.
– I have been advised that the naval authorities have commandeered without notice the ferry service between Brooklyn and Patonga. I do not question whether the action was right or wrong, but I should like the Minister for the Navy to inquire into the possibility of the naval authorities taking an interest in the provision of an alternative service for the people whose means of transport has been taken from them?
– I shall make those inquiries. I am aware of the urgent need to commandeer the craft. I shall tell the honorable member privately what facilities can be provided in substitution.
– Is it a fact that the Department of War Organization of Industry has issued a prohibition against the employment of females within certain age groups and of a defined status in certain States? Was the Minister for War Organization of Industry correctly reported as having indicated that by a policy of economic pressure those dis placed from industry would be forced into war industries? Is that the considered policy of the Government? Can it be expected that the policy will be applied to other industries as necessity dictates ?
– It is a fact that a prohibition order has been issued against the employment of women in certain age groups in one State. I am not aware of any report having been published that I had stated that economic pressure was being brought to bear on any one, but this type of regulation is in line with the policy of the Government, and will be adopted in different States from time to time to make labour available for war industries which urgently require it.
– I have received a number of complaints about the proposed deletion from the national programmes of the excellent overseas war commentaries at 6.55 a.m. Suggestions have been made that the altered hours for broadcasting programmes may affect the continuance of the service. Will the Minister representing the Postmaster General confer with his colleague for the purpose of seeing whether this session can be retained ?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the PostmasterGeneral.
– I move -
That the hill he now read a second time.
This bill provides for the adoption by the Parliament of five sections of the Statute of Westminster. They are sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Their adoption will remove a number of restrictions which have caused doubts, difficulties and anomalies, especially since the outbreak of the war. Retention of the restrictions tends to obstruct the exercise by the Parliament of the powers already granted to it by the Commonwealth Constitution, including the power to make regulations for shipping and ships which are urgently required from time to time under the National Security Act.
The questions involved have, or should have, no party significance whatsoever. But I observe that in some quarters there is still some misunderstanding as to the purpose and effect of the five sections of the United Kingdom Statute which we are empowered by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to adopt, and which we now propose to adopt. For my part, I have made every endeavour to keep the question entirely free from considerations of party politics. To ensure a full understanding of the position, I have circulated a special memorandum explaining in detail, and I hope clearly, the practical necessity for action by this Parliament. In addition, I have made available to honorable members and honorable senators the services of experts in this branch of constitutional law.
However, 1 must restate the position as the Government sees it. The conclusion I invite is that no reasonable objection whatever can be raised to adopting all five sections. Of course, it is open to the House, if it chooses, to select any one or more of the five sections, and, in 1931, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) spoke in favour of a course which would have resulted in the adoption of three out of the five sections. The position to-day is very different. I ask honorable members to adopt all five sections. Some are more urgently required than others. But all are essential if Australia is to enjoy complete self-government in relation to its own internal affairs.
I present the question as a practical one of good administration. It does not involve any new definition of our constitutional status as a dominion. Let me make this clear. The phrase “Dominion Status “ means, in substance, that the self-governing dominions are endowed will full autonomy in relation to both their internal and their external affairs. It is sometimes suggested that this status was for the first time declared and granted by the Statute of Westminster which was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster in 1931. This is a complete misapprehen- sion. The advance in the status of the dominions was fully recognized towards the end of the last war. That status was again defined authoritatively by the Imperial ‘Conference of 1926. ‘Consequently, neither the Statute of Westminster nor the adoption of any of its clauses will add to the status of Australia which is fully recognized, not only by Britain, but throughout the world. The object of this bill is the very practical one set out in its title, viz. : -
To remove doubts as to the validity of certain Commonwealth legislation, to obviate delays occurring in its passage and to effect certain related purposes.
The history of the development of the self-governing British colonies may perhaps be divided into four periods. In the first period, there was complete subordination of the colonial legislative body to the Imperial Parliament. During tha second period, there was a long struggle by the British colonists against all forms of imperial intervention in the local affairs of the colonies. Why? Because the British people carried with them into every colony the same passionate devotion to self-government which had inspired their ancestors during their long struggle to achieve a greater measure of selfgovernment and full constitutional liberty.
During the third period, the selfgoverning colonies grew in power and stature, and they gradually came to be described and recognized as selfgoverning dominions. There was an impetus to this growth during the Great War of 1914-18, when the association of the Dominions with the Mother Country developed into a relationship which bore many resemblances to that of an imperial partnership. By the end of the Great War, the old doctrine of subordination of the colonies to the Parliament at Westminster seems to have been replaced by the doctrine of partnership with equality of status, although equality of status did not and. does not mean equality of stature.
The last period in the stage of development has emerged from the third, and is in a sense a logical development of it. It may be described as the period of free co-operation in all matters of common concern. The tie that binds the Dominions to Britain is not the legal inferiority of the Dominion Parliament to that of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster, but the free association of the British countries and their common allegiance to the King. That is the tie that will endure.
I repeat that the doctrine of equal partnership became accepted as a hard, practical fact during the last war. I think it only right to say that on the side of the Dominions the statesman moat prominent in advocating and emphasizing the doctrine at that time was the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). Throughout the war and during the negotiation of the Treaty of Peace, he took a prominent part in the War Councils of Britain and its allies.
Another stage in the history of what is now called the British Commonwealth of Nations was reached in 192>6, when the Imperial Conference adopted a report usually described as the Balfour Report. The Australian Government was represented at the conference by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, and Australia accepted full responsibility for the Balfour declaration. That declaration referred to “ the group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions “, and proceeded to describe their mutual relationship in the following terms : -
They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
There has been much analysis of this formula. But, after all, it only asserted explicitly the two simple but essential axioms which were already implicit in such transactions as the signature of the Treaty of Versailles. First, the Dominions are an integral portion of the British Empire, and the essential and indissoluble legal link between all of them and Britain is their common allegiance to the King; secondly, all the self-governing units of the Commonwealth of Nations possess equality of status, both in domestic or internal affairs, and foreign or external affairs. I hope that I have removed a misconception which was evident in a few quarters yesterday.
Here, I emphasize that the Statute of Westminster has nothing whatever to do with these axioms of constitutional relationship. It was passed because a special Imperial Sub-conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation called in 1929, and consisting mainly of experts in law, pointed out that in several important respects the British Dominions did not possess autonomy even in respect of their own domestic or internal affairs. The fact was that from time to time, their legislation could .be and was overridden by several out-of-date Imperial statutes imposing awkward and onerous restrictions, which were enforced even by dominion courts.
Here comes an amazing paradox ; this is the crux of the position legally: in international and external affairs, with which the Dominions were at first concerned only to a very limited extent, no legal obstructions whatever presented themselves. This was because of an important legal doctrine. In the realm of foreign affair’s, the King is at liberty to exercise his common law prerogatives without being controlled by the statute law. Thus in the eyes of the law it is the King who declares war; it is the King who makes peace; it is the King who makes a treaty; it is the King who appoints Ministers; it is the King who receives Ministers. In all these vital aspects of foreign affairs the King is legally entitled to act without control by any statute.
– The King could be at war in one of his countries but not at war in another.
– That is a separate point as to which I say nothing now.
What I have said does not mean, of course, that the King acts personally; he acts constitutionally, i.e., through responsible Ministers. But it does mean that few statutory restrictions have ever been imposed upon the action of the Monarch in relation to foreign affairs. This doctrine of the prerogative is an essential part of the common law of England, a notable feature of which is its adaptability to changing circumstances. As a result of this flexibility of the common law and the prerogative, British dominions like
Australia have, without any amendment of British or dominion statutes, been able to exercise their undoubted constitutional rights in relation to external affairs.
– The King is not classified as the King of the British Commonwealth. He is the King of England, and he is also the King of Australia.
– He is the King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British dominions beyond the seas. He is the King of every portion of the British Empire.
Accordingly, Australia has been enabled to exchange Ministers with foreign countries, and even to declare a state of war in the name of the King, who in this matter, as in all others, acts on the advice of Australian Ministers in relation to the Commonwealth and its territories. The paradox is that although no legal obstacle precludes Australia from exercising its constitutional rights in relation to external or international affairs, several legal obstacles still preclude it from legislating freely in relation to matters ‘ of purely domestic or internal concern. In such domestic matters the flexibility of the common law is no longer at our disposal. In its place, we are confronted with the rigidity of several old imperial enactments. That rigidity cannot be removed by the Commonwealth Parliament acting alone.For, in the eyes of the law, the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia still remains subject to specific Imperial enactments dealing with “colonies”. It was mainly for this reason that the conference of 1929, at which the Commonwealth was represented by Professor Sir W. Harrison Moore, unanimously recommended the passing of a special statute by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
– Are the laws that are applicable to Australia under 9 George IV.?
– No. But the Colonial Laws Validity Act, which was passed in. 1865 by the British Parliament, applies to all British colonies and possessions throughout the world, and although the Commonwealth had not been formed in 1865, it has been held that section 2 of that statute clearly applies to all Commonwealth legislation passed since 1901.
– But 9 George IV. would apply to Australia as it was known at the time of that enactment, that is, tothe colony of New South Wales.
– Yes. 9 George IV. is the Imperial act which established civil government in New South Wales, but the Colonial Laws Validity Act is a general act by which any enactment of any legislature in any British colony was rendered invalid if repugnant to any Imperial enactment.
At this stage I should refer to the important Imperial Conference of 1930. It gave careful consideration to the report of the 1929 sub-conference, and finally determined both the form of the proposed Statute of Westminster and the steps that should be taken in the British dominions to request formally the United Kingdom Government to pass the bill into law. At that conference, Australia was represented by Mr. Scullin, Prime Minister, and Mr. Brennan as AttorneyGeneral. The procedure laid down by the conference was substantially followed both in Australia and in the other dominions. The Balfour declaration of 1926 settled finally and irrevocably the selfgoverning status of the Dominions, as to both external and internal affairs. Then, legal restrictions were still found to exist. It was considered that these were a matter for experts, and therefore an Imperial Conference was called in 1929. This conference made a unanimous report to a further conference in 1930 suggesting how the legal restrictions in relation to internal affairs should be overcome. The procedure to be adopted was the passing by the Parliament ‘of the United Kingdom of a statute, which was known as the Statute of Westminster, and the removal of each restriction one by one according to what was determined upon by the particular dominion concerned. Consequently all the Dominions, including Australia, requested the United Kingdom Parliament to pass the statute.
– Was a condition of the passing of the statute to be that the requests from the Dominions should be unanimous ?
– It was assumed that they would be unanimous, because the conferences of 1929 and 1930 were unanimous.
– But there were protests from the States of Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia.
– Certain safeguards were included in the Statute of Westminster because of those protests, so that the Constitution of the Commonwealth, dividing powers between the Commonwealth and the States, would not be affected one iota by the passing of the statute.
I have explained the origin, of the Statute of Westminster, which was passed by the Parliament at Westminster in 1931. It was passed in a form which had been previously approved in substance by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I shall now explain to the House the technical legal position in relation to the matters dealt with by each of the five sections of the statute which we propose to adopt.
Mr.Ryan. - Why were the five separate sections reserved at that time and not put into action?
– I believe that the reason was that, although there could have been inserted a general provision to remove all restrictions, the lawyers in 1929 carefully elaborated what the restrictions were. Take, for instance, the Colonial Laws Validity Act. It might have been thought desirable, owing to differences of opinion, to adopt some sections of the statute and not others. The object was to separate the restrictions so that they could be dealt with seriatim.
– I believe that they were separated because there were doubts in the minds- of our representativesas to whether the people of Australia desired them to be adopted.
– I do not agree with that.
– The motive behind the, whole of those proceedings is the most important point that we have to consider.
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. If motives are to be assigned, we shall have to deal with them later. I now come to the crux of the matter the precise question that arises under each of those five sections as to whether the restriction should be continued or removed.
Section 2 of the Statute of Westminster provides that the Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865 shall no longer apply to a dominion, and that no dominion law shall be void because of repugnancy to past or future Imperial legislation, and that the dominion Parliament may amend or repeal any such Imperial legislation. At present the Colonial Laws Validity Act still operates to invalidate any Commonwealth legislation which is technically repugnant to any Imperial legislation which applies to Australia, thus restricting the free exercise of the Commonwealth legislative powers and endangering the validity of its legislation. Many provisions of the Navigation Act, section 6 of the National Security Act, and several national security regulations purport to extend to ships other than Australian ships or ships engaged in the coasting trade. Therefore, they are probably invalid as applying to ships to which the Merchant Shipping Act applies. Our only powers in relation to shipping are set out in the Merchant Shipping Act itself, and, broadly speaking, they, are limited to the coasting trade and to ships registered in Australia.
– Then does the honorable gentleman propose to increase the Commonwealth’s powers under the Constitution?
– No, not at all. Apparently the honorable member fears that we shall increase Commonwealth powers at the expense of the States and without reference to them. We do not propose to do that. The only question is whether our legislation should be overridden because it is in conflict with an Imperial act the Merchant Shipping Act which was passed in 1894 and which repeated in substance the provisions of an act of 1854. No question of State legislative authority is involved. We do not seek to take power away from the States. Our legislation is fettered solely by virtue of the Imperial enactment, plus the Colonial Laws Validity Act, which states that an Imperial enactment which is inconsistent with an enactment of a colony shall prevail, so that the colonial act shall be void.
– Is the Government asking for absolute control of Commonwealth shipping outside of the 3 miles limit?
– The whole subject of shipping has become much more important since the entry of Japan into the war, for that event has involved the entry into our ports of the ships of many nations and the exercise of physical control over them. For example, aliens on such ships who desert have to be returned to their ships. Action in this respect is being taken today under Commonwealth regulations, but there is probably a lack of constitutional power to issue the regulations because the Merchant Shipping Act deals with discipline on ships throughout the Empire. Even legislation that we pass with regard to ships on the Australian register or on our coasting trade must be reserved for the Royal assent. That causes delay. Every government which has been in office in Australia since the outbreak of the war has issued regulations dealing with shipping because of the necessity for the physical control of shipping. The necessity for such control has increased considerably since Japan entered the war and, indeed, it must be obvious to honorable members that such control must be exercised.
– Has the exercise of the control ever been challenged?
– The honorable gentleman had better not wake up that subject.
– A little later I shall again refer to that subject. Surely it will not be questioned that legal validity should be given to the regulations under which we are operating at present. Departmental officers know that grave doubt exists about the validity of some of the regulations; and there is no doubt that others are definitely invalid. That situation should not be allowed to continue.
The result of the adoption of section 2 of the Statute of Westminster by this Parliament will be that the obsolete provision of the Colonial Laws Validity Act will no longer apply, and the Commonwealth Government will be able to exercise the legislative power which it possesses as a self-governing dominion without constantly having to be on the look out for technical conflicts with the legislation of the Imperial Parliament on the subject.
– Where does the power reside at present?
– In the Constitution.
– Then how will the constitutional position be improved by the adoption of this provision of the Statute of Westminster?
– That is a fair question, and if the honorable gentleman had been following the argument he would know the answer to it.
– It is not a new argument.
– Apparently the argument is not understood even though it may not be new. The present position is that under our Constitution we have power over interstate commerce and also over navigation associated with it, and under our war-time power our control of shipping is not restricted by interstate limits. The point is, however, that certain of our legislation, or the regulations made pursuant to such legislation for the problem is related principally to regulations are probably in conflict with Imperial law. We propose to take advantage of the suggestion of the Imperial Conference, and of the action of the Imperial Parliament, to remove the existing restrictions. This action is not being taken at the expense of the States. Our purpose is to use Commonwealth power as set out in the Constitution.
– How can our regulations be in conflict with the Imperial law if they have been passed in conformity with the Australian Constitution ?
– The honorable gentleman is suggesting that if the Commonwealth Constitution gives certain powers it overrides Imperial law, but that is not the case. I refer the honorable gentleman to the Union Steamship case mentioned in the monograph. The argument implied in the honorable gentleman’s interjection was a notable feature of that case and it was rejected by the High Court.
– The point is that there is a still higher power.
– The honorable member for Gippsland has put it in a nutshell. The Commonwealth Constitution is an act of the Imperial Parliament dealing with Australia. It was held by the High Court that the Merchant Shipping Act was a higher power in relation to shipping. Legislation by this Parliament which is repugnant to either the Merchant Shipping Act or the Colonial Laws Validity Act is overridden by Imperial legislation.
I shall answer any questions that honorable members wish to ask me later, but I desire, at the moment, to complete my survey of the position in relation to section 2 of the statute. That provision was the subject of comment in this Parliament in 1931 when the Statute of Westminster Bill was being considered. On that occasion the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said -
To do anything more than to repeal the Colonial Laws Validity Act and the Merchant Shipping Act, so far as they limit our powers, is quite unnecessary.
The right honorable gentleman took the point in dealing generally with the measure that he did not desire to have matters put into rigid legislative form which, in his view, should be left to constitutional practice. He added -
I am in favour of amending the Colonial Laws Validity Act and the Merchant Shipping Act; but I am not in favour of any other part of this resolution.
The Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 is affected by section 2 of the statute and the Merchant Shipping Act by section 5 of it, and the right honorable member for North Sydney made it clear that although he was not in favour of the adoption of the statute as a whole he was in favour of the adoption of sections 2 and 5. The then honorable member for Kooyong, now Sir John Latham, Chief Justice of the High Court, said, in the same debate in relation to the Colonial Laws Validity Act -
This provision, therefore, declares that the Colonial Laws Validity Act shall not apply to the legislation of any dominion. I approve of these proposals. They confer complete legislative power upon this Parliament with respect to matters upon which it has power to legislate. I can see no reason for main taining the rule of the Colonial Laws Validity Act in relation to matters within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament.
He then dealt with a point raised by the then honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and stated that the statute, in the respects mentioned by that honorable gentleman, did not prejudice the existing constitutional powers of the state.
My main point in referring to the observations of the right honorable member for North Sydney and the former member for Kooyong, is to indicate that even before the emergency of war had come upon us they recognized a need for increased control of shipping by the Commonwealth. This need has increased greatly because of war conditions. I have not read the full text of section 2 of the statute but my summary has made the position clear. At present it is possible for our legislation on navigation to be completely nullified in certain respects by provisions of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865. If this Parliament adopts section 2 of the statute that position will no longer obtain. This would not mean that the Commonwealth Parliament would be asked immediately to proceed to enact general shipping legislation in relation to British and overseas ships, but it would mean that our physical and de facto control under national security regulations would be lawful and not either questionable or definitely invalid.
– Does the invalidity apply only to shipping laws?
– Other directions in which invalidity exists are mentioned in my monograph.
– Is not the specific reference to shipping due to the fact that not only is any legislation on shipping by the. Australian Parliament void if it is repugnant to Imperial law, but also that it must be reserved for the Royal assent, irrespective of any possibility of repugnancy?
– That is so. Even our legislation in relation to vessels registered in Australia for the Australian coasting trade must be reserved for the Royal assent. I shall refer to this point again when I am dealing with section 5 of the statute.
I shall now refer to section 3 of the statute, which reads -
It is hereby declared and enacted that the Parliament of a dominion has full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation.
The present position is still, as in 1929, one of legal obscurity. In recent years the courts have tended to accept the view that a dominion can make any law that can properly be said to be one for its .peace, order and good government, whether operating outside the territory or not. If this view were universally accepted, it would not be necessary to adapt section 3, because we should possess the powers already. But when, in 1940, the Parliament of the United Kingdom enacted a new section in the Army Act applying to Australia, it acted on an entirely different view. The official parliamentary memorandum accompanying the bill at “Westminster contained the following sentence: -
In the first place (the bill) enables the military and air force law of the dominion to apply to the dominion forces outside the dominion, which it would not otherwise do without the adoption of section 3 of the Statute of Westminster.
That official memorandum reverts to the older doctrine that a dominion parliament does not “possess any extraterritorial powers without specific grant. Let me illustrate the point. Australia’s legal power to govern its forces overseas is secure either way; but if this older view were again accepted, Australia would have no .power to meet other contingencies that may arise, unless a special act is secured from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. For example, if we were asked by our allies to establish civil government in occupied territories, we should have no power to do so, even during the war. The ambit of our present war-time shipping laws would be open to grave doubt.
The result of adopting section, 3 of the statute would be that Australia would possess beyond doubt the powers that the United Kingdom and other countries, including British dominions, possess1 to regulate matters that belong to its own peace, order and good government, even though they take place outside its territorial limits.
– Has the Commonwealth Parliament power, at present, to enact legislation to control fisheries and whaling in the Antarctic seas?
– We may possess power over whaling under certain international conventions, but the legal position is still doubtful. The position is summed up in the following extract from the report of the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation, held in 1929 :-
The subject (i.e. extra-territorial operation of dominion legislation) is full of obscurity, and there is conflict in legal opinion as expressed in the courts and in the writings of jurists both as to the existence of the limitation itself and as to its extent. There are differences in dominion constitutions themselves which are reflected in legal opinion in those dominions. The doctrine of limitation is the subject of no certain test applicable to all cases, and constitutional power over the same matter may depend on whether the subject is one of a civil remedy or of criminal jurisdiction. The practical inconvenience of the doctrine is by no means to be measured by the number of cases in which legislation has been held to be invalid or inoperative.
That is very important. The report proceeds -
It introduces a general uncertainty which can be illustrated by questions raised concerning fisheries, taxation, shipping, air navigation, marriage, criminal Jaw, deportation, and the enforcement of laws against smuggling and unlawful immigration. The state of the law has compelled legislatures to resort to indirect methods of reaching conduct which, in virtue of the doctrine, might lie beyond their direct power but which they deem it essential to control as part of their self-government.
Sir John Latham, in the speech from which I have quoted in another connexion, said - “ . . . What is proposed “ i.e. by provision relating to extra-territorial operation of legislation “ is to prevent any legislation being declared invalid here, which it is otherwise within the power of this Parliament to pass, because it deals with facts, matters, circumstances, or things outside the territory of Australia. I agree that the change ought to be made “.
That completes my reference to section 3. My honorable colleague, the Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway), has mentioned to me the position in New Guinea. I have been asked whether the matter is limited to shipping, and the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) has pointed out the special importance of shipping. The Colonial Laws Validity Act is not limited to shipping. Let me recite the provision in our Defence Act which deals with the punishment of members of the Australian forces by a court martial - whether sentence of death can be carried into effect without the consent of the Governor-General. In that connexion, I pointed out last night that when Australian ships have been transferred to the Royal Navy, the discipline of the ratings is governed entirely by Imperial acts. One of the results of that was that, when two ratings had been sentenced to death by a court martial, the provision that protected them against the sentence being carried into effect without the consent of the GovernorGeneral, no longer applied; in other words, the protection which this Parliament inserted in the Defence Act in order to cover the three services was no longer applicable to these men. Fortunately, action was taken speedily. The adoption of this legislation would not affect the actual disciplining of Australian ratings who are under the control of the Royal Navy; but they would have the protection afforded by the provision in the Defence Act that the death sentence shall not be carried into effect without the consent of the Governor.General. I do not wish to become involved in a matter of policy. I am assuming that whatever policy this Parliament decides upon and embodies in the Defence Act, that policy should operate to the degree that this Parliament declares in relation to the members of our fighting services wherever they may be. It is well to point out that as the position now stands, if a member of the Royal Australian Navy who had been transferred temporarily to the Royal Navy were to commit a serious offence in Australian waters, even in Sydney Harbour, his trial by court martial would be conducted under Imperial law, and we would not have, in law, the power that the Defence Act gives to us to deal with commutation of the sentence imposed. That is a legal anomaly of which the Imperial authorities would not approve. The case of the two men to whom I have referred was finally dealt with in London.
– With what offence were they charged?
– It was the very serious charge of murder in Pacific waters.
– Had the offence been committed in Australian waters, the position would not have been different.
– Even had it been committed in Sydney Harbour they would not have had the protection of the Australian Defence Act. We suggested to the Imperial authorities that the Imperial Parliament should pass a special regulation, but it was found that that would be very difficult. We suggested, not so drastic a change as the alteration of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, but that the provisions of the Australian Defence Act should apply for the duration of the war. I am not criticizing the Imperial authorities. They probably thought, “ We do not care to do this ; it really should be done by Australia “. In like circumstances, a dominion such as Canada would not be in a similar position. The two men were sentenced to death on the 15th April of this year. They were in an Australian gaol awaiting the carrying out of the death sentence. There were court proceedings. When I refer to invalidity, I base my remarks on the actual judgment of some of the justices of the High Court. After the decision of the High Court had been given, the Government, on the 21st July, 1942, cabled to the Imperial authorities pointing out the extreme urgency of the matter. On the 11th August, 1942 - 21 days later - advice was received of the commutation of their sentence. I again stress that I do not make that statement critically. I suppose that such a matter, having been presented, had to be examined thoroughly. A writ of habeas corpus was taken out, and the matter went to the High Court. The final decision was that Imperial law was the governing factor. I am not attributing blame to anybody, but am merely saying that it was an inevitable result of the present legal position. In such a serious case, a decision ought to be reached in a few days if humanly possible. The great feature of British jurisprudence is the speed at which such matters are determined ; and the essence of the administration of that law is the rapidity with which a decision is made. This contrasts strongly with what occurs in some other countries.
The Fugitive Offenders Act is an Imperial act that governs the surrender, as between various portions of the Empire, &c, of persons who are charged with offences. The ‘Commonwealth has enacted the Service and Execution of Process Act, which, among other things, is intended to achieve similar results. A few years ago, in a case in the courts, there was the most acute division of opinion as to whether the Service and Execution of Process Act governed the surrender of accused persons as between New South Wales and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The argument was that the matter was governed by the Fugitive Offenders Act. Two of the justices held that the surrender was governed by the Imperial act. Two other of the justices said that it was governed by the Service and Execution of Process Act, and a fifth, who might have decided the matter, did not express an opinion on the point. It was a very difficult question. It is clear that such a matter, relating to our own internal affairs, should be governed by Australian law if Australia so desires.
Section 4 provides that no future legislation of the Imperial Parliament shall extend to a dominion unless the legislation contains a clause stating that the application has been requested and consented to by the dominion - which, in respect of the ‘Commonwealth, means the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth. That is one of the amendments in the ‘Statute of Westminster in 1931 that Sir John Latham suggested. But for such insertion, it would have been possible for the Government of this country to ask the Imperial Parliament to pass a law in relation to Australia. The safeguard provided was that such a request should be made, not by the Government alone, but by both Houses of the Parliament. Honorable members will recall that in 1931 the composition of the House of Representatives was not entirely reflected by the state of parties in the Senate. Such being the position, it was thought desirable that a safeguard should be provided ; and it was provided. The present position is this: The third clause of the preamble to the Statute of Westminster says, “ Whereas it is in accord “, &c. That preamble corre- sponds with section 4; in other words, that constitutional practice to-day is in accord with section 4.
– Why, then, is it needed ?
– If constitutional practice were observed, nothing could arise under section 4 that might create legal difficulties, doubts or invalidity of legislation or regulation. But it is a safeguard. Because of its insertion, the Government of this country could not itself effectively request Imperial legislation unless supported by the Parliament of the Commonwealth ; or, if it did so, the Imperial Parliament could ignore its request. That was the view which Sir John Latham expressed in 1931, and I regard it as sound. The practical effect of the adoption of section 4 will be twofold : First, a ready indication to the courts of whether or not the legislation applies to the Commonwealth; that is, does it contain the requesting and consenting clause, or not? The request and consent must go from both the Parliament and the Government of the Commonwealth, not merely from the Government itself. Some years ago, when the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) introduced one of the two bills that he brought in, one or two of the States said that they did not like section 4, without a preamble in the adopting legislation to the effect that the Commonwealth would not ask the Imperial Parliament for legislation in respect of a matter that really came within the jurisdiction of a State. My answer to that would be, first, that the Parliament of this country would not make such a request; and secondly, that if it did, the Imperial Parliament would not enact the legislation. Honorable members will notice that this does not say that the Imperial Parliament will always act upon the request and consent; the provision is negative - not to pass legislation without the request and consent. Yesterday, I received from the Premier of Victoria a letter in which he again suggested that there should he inserted, not in the section, but in the preamble, a provision to the effect that it would not be in accordance with practice that the Commonwealth should make such a request, unless the matter were within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. Of course, I do not think that the House should adopt such a formula. Our right to request should not be limited to matters within our exclusive jurisdiction, but to matters within our jurisdiction. Again, section 4 may be regarded in a different way from sections 2, 3, 5 and 6. The constitutional practice is in accordance with what this section would enact, and it is open to either chamber to say, in regard to section 4, that it is unnecessary. I do not say that it is unnecessary; I think that it should go in, but I mention the matter now in order to fulfil my duty to the House. This bill will not in any way disturb the balance of powers between the Commonwealth and the States. That can be altered only by the people acting under section 128 of the Constitution. [Extension of time granted.)
Section 5 of the statute provides that sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act, and section 6 of the statute provides that section 4 and parts of section 7 of the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act of 1890, shall not extend to a dominion. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) referred to sections 735 and 736. Briefly, they give power to a colonial legislature - which Australia still is within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Act - to pass laws for its own registered ships and coasting trade, provided it first repeals a part of the Merchant Shipping Act, and provided its legislation is assented to by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. That act is too limited for the effective control of our own shipping.
– Does this legislation cover air traffic?
– It refers specifically to only shipping. As a matter of fact, there is no Imperial act which lays down any policy for Australian shipping, because, when the Merchant Shipping Act was passed in 1884, it was based on the legislation of 1854, when there was no colonial shipping, and, of course, no Commonwealth.
By reason of the operation in Australia of these Imperial enactments, certain measures passed by the Common wealth Parliament relating to shipping, and measures conferring admiralty jurisdiction on Australian courts, must be reserved for the King’s assent, even where only a minor provision in the measure attracts the operation of the Imperial law. Failure to reserve such measures makes them invalid. Moreover, the Merchant Shipping Act defines the shipping jurisdiction of the Dominion Parliament wthin limits which are difficult to observe. The need for reserving and despatching the bills to London results in delay in bringing them into operation, and there is often doubt as to whether reservation should be effectuated - for example, in regard to section 6 of the National Security Act, and the shipping regulations made thereunder.
Uncertainty as to the respective admiralty jurisdictions of the High Court and the Supreme Courts of the States between 1914 and 1939 caused the introduction of a bill immediately after the outbreak of the present war. Nearly three months elapsed after the passing of the act by both Houses before the matter was finally dealt with in London, and a proclamation was issued bringing the act into force here. A further example is supplied by the recent Navigation Bill. Both Houses passed the bill on the 4th June last, but the Royal assent has not yet been proclaimed, although nearly four months have elapsed.
– Was there any reason for imposing these restrictions at the time it was done?
– Yes. In 1854, shipping was looked upon as a single entity throughout the whole Empire, and its control was watched most jealously. It was quite proper at. that time to have such a policy.
– Bur why was this special reservation renewed at. the time of the passing of the Statute of Westminster?
– It was not. The dominions were to be freed of all such restrictions and future arrangements were to be placed upon a basis of convention and agreement between the dominions and the
Government of the United Kingdom. Perhaps the honorable member has in mind a reservation in regard to the Colonial Stock Act. There was no reservation in regard to shipping. In fact, it was recommended that restrictions on shipping be removed. By the adoption of sections 5 and 6 of the statute, the difficulties to which I have referred will be overcome. The drafting of measures to deal with shipping and with admiralty jurisdiction will be facilitated and, at the same time, their passage into law will be accelerated. Sir John Latham, discussing these proposals in 1931, said -
I think that this is a desirable removal of an unnecessary limitation on our powers Nothing is gained by the. provisions in those sections.
I approve also of the proposal with respect to Colonial Courts of Admiralty.
I submit that the case for adoption of these five sections has been made out. It is not a negative case, but a positive one - a case for fuller Australian selfgovernment in matters affecting the internal affairs of Australia. As I have already pointed out, it is open to the House to adopt any one or more of the sections, but I am satisfied, and the Solicitor-General and his officers agree, that the practical drafting and legal administrative difficulties which have arisen during the war, and the consequent doubts and difficulties, will best be obviated by the adoption of all five sections.
Other objections have been mentioned to me since I circulated my memorandum on the topic. Perhaps I had better deal with them shortly. The first question is whether the fact that we are at war should induce us to refrain from adoption. This question assumes that adoption is desirable at some time, but not at the present time. Incidentally, I may mention that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) twice introduced a bill for the adoption of the statute before the outbreak of the present war. The present objection may be phrased : Would it not be better to postpone the adoption of the statute until the war is over?
My answer to the question is as follows: - The restrictions which I have described and analysed are even more irksome in war-time than in peace-time. A far greater number of regulations dealing with shipping and other related matters has to be made, and made rapidly, in the emergency of war. Vessels come to our shores, and our physical control of them may have to be given the backing of law, despite the Colonial Laws Validity Act, and despite the Merchant Shipping Act. Trouble has occurred through Chinese crews deserting their ships. They must be got back on to their ships, and we must have power to deal with them.
– That is the weakest argument which the AttorneyGeneral has so far put forward. He must know that Chinese who desert their ships can be arrested at any time.
– The honorable member for Barker has been attending to his correspondence for the last hour. Now, he suddenly wakes up to what is going on, and throws in a remark which is totally irrelevant. He should realize that it is one thing to arrest a man, and another to put him back on his ship and make him work. Again, the necessity for ensuring that our legislation and regulations can operate extra-territorially is even greater in war-time than in time of peace. It is sufficient for me to refer to the practical necessity for applying our laws to the rapidly changing situations on the Pacific war front. In short, the war has not decreased, but increased, t”he necessity, for adopting the provisions of the statute. The restrictions are bad at all times. In time of war they are ‘worse.
The second objection is that the statute will convert into a rigid formula what is at present a series of delightfully flexible rules and understandings. Again, this is a misconception. It arises from the strange belief that somehow, somewhere, statute law can be adjusted to the needs of the occasion and that, in some mysterious way, the restrictions of old time imperial enactments for the colonies will gradually cease to apply to a nation like Australia.
Of course, every lawyer knows that this is quite wrong. The -restrictions do not disappear. They remain. They are enforced by the courts. While the common law can adjust itself to new conditions, the statute law, still applicable to Australia as a “ colonial law “ of 1865, does not, and cannot. For that reason we can remove the restrictions imposed by the Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865 only through some such instrument as has been devised for us by the combined wisdom of the statesmen of Britain and all the dominions. That instrument is the Statute of Westminster. Accordingly, we do not, by adopting the statute, formalize a relationship that is informal; we do not make rigid that which is flexible. On the contrary, by removing rigid restrictions on our legislative power, we remove what is a rigid control upon our own Parliament and we pave the way for that flexible and free co-operation which is the main foundation of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Another question which has been asked, arising, no doubt, from motives of pure patriotism, is : “ Will the adoption of the statute weaken the Imperial tie ? “. My answer is unhesitatingly, “ No “. I go further. I say that the tie between Britain and Australia will be confirmed and strengthened. It would, be a sorry day if the Australian people were told that their relationship with the people of Britain might ‘be weakened merely because Australians desired- that legislation on Australian affairs passed by their own representatives in their own Parliament should no longer run the -risk of invalidation and annihilation by means of a British act of Parliament which was quite suited to the colonial conditions of 1865 but is quite unsuited to the needs of Australia to-day - nearly 80 years afterwards. In my submission, the passage of this bill will give further emphasis to the undoubted fact that the real link between Britain and Australia is not the lagal subordination of the Parliament of this great dominion to the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster but the unity of the Crown throughout the Empire, our common allegiance to the King and the indissoluble tie of tradition and kinship which binds the two peoples.
I have striven to present this question and maintain this debate at a level which is, I hope, worthy of this Parliament. I am sure that no member of this assembly will be found to assert that this Government desires to weaken in the slightest degree our relationship with Britain. If any one had asserted it, we should know how to characterize the assertion. For the truth is this : The relationship between Britain and Australia has never been, closer or more intimate than it is to-day. I recall a phrase of the present Prime Minister of Britain which I heard him use during my recent mission to Britain, and which is relevant to our discussion. He said, “ I have always found this about you Australians - the better an Australian a man is, the better a Britisher ! “ In adopting this statute and removing the restrictions we shall do a good job for Australia. In. doing that, we shall be doing a good job for Britain, too.
We are an Australian government responsible primarily to the people of Australia. We need this legislation in order to remove burdensome restrictions and unsatisfactory delays which still clog the rights of Australians to control their own domestic affairs. Britain does not object to what we are doing. On the contrary, Britain has made our present course an eminently suitable one, because- in this piece of legislation it has included safeguards to meet the special position of Australia. Why should we not accept this offer in the spirit in which it was made? It will assist us in the exercise of the rights of self-government in Australia.
I have explained frankly and fully what the difficulties are and the methods by which we can now remove them. As they have increased in number and complexity since the outbreak of war and as a direct result of war, and as it is our duty to prevent important legislation and regulations from being challenged or invalidated, I ask the House to make the adoption, of these five sections operate as from the date of the outbreak of war with Germany. Normally, I do not favour retrospective legislation of any character, but in this case it seems necessary to remove doubts affecting war-time regulations.
There is one final point which should convince those who might still have some lingering doubts. It has been suggested that, if we adopt these sections or any of them, the step taken will be irrevocable that Parliament will thereby put it out of its power to recall the adoption which has been agreed to. This, too, is a complete misapprehension. A special power has been inserted in the Statute of Westminster which enables the Commonwealth Parliament to revoke the adoption of any of the sections 2 to 6 if it so chooses. In other words, if it is subsequently desired by Parliament to retrace its steps, that course is legally possible. But I do not suggest that it is likely, and I hope it will never take place, because it will be found that, as a result of the adoption of the sections, Australia’s self-governing rights will be inalienable.
– The British Parliament could repeal the Statute of Westminster.
– Exactly. The Commonwealth Parliament at any time could repeal its adoption of that statute, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom could repeal the statute itself, but both courses would be unthinkable. In my submission, this measure is necessary in order to remove serious doubts, difficulties and delays which threaten Commonwealth legislation and regulations, particularly those passed since the outbreak of war. I can see no just cause or excuse for refusing to confer upon the people of Australia, through their representative Parliament, freedom from the burdensome restrictions and handicaps which I have fully described. At the same time we are bound to clarify several related points which, if the statute is not adopted, will certainly be used in the future to obstruct the enforcement of the will of the people as expressed in the legislation of this Parliament. All this we can do for Australia and the Australian people without detracting in the slightest degree from that special and indissoluble relationship with Britain which is based upon our common kinship and our common allegiance to His Majesty the King.
– Why does the Statute of Westminster limit the application of these sections to the dominions of Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland ? Is it because the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations have presumed this prerogative ?
– No. In 1931, the Commonwealth Parliament took active steps in the formulation of the statute and had incorporated in it the provisions and safeguards that I have mentioned, including a provision that, before the statute was applied, the Parliaments of Australia and New Zealand must say whatsections they wanted to enact. In the case of Canada and the other dominions, the provisions were actually incorporated in the statute at their request. I say nothing about Newfoundland because since then Newfoundland has ceased to have a parliament, for its government was taken over by an Imperial commission.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hughes) adjourned.
Commonwealth Bank Bill : Appointmentofspecial Committee - War: Proposed Meeting of Senators and Members - Apple and Pear Marketing Board : High Court Judgment - Allied Works Council: Civil Constructional Corps, Right of Appeal ; Discharge of Employees; Medical Examination ; System of Payment ; Transfers from Southern States to Queensland - Australian Army: Release of Shearers; Call-up of N. J. Hackett; Co-ordination with Man-power Authorities; Containers for Tallow - Housing of Locomotive Enginemen - Profiteering in Tobacco - Population : Views of Me. A. B. Piddington - Department of Air: Discharge of F. W. Roope - Food Supply: Waste of Potatoes; Shortage of Fruit - Munitions Factories : Costing System - Man-power : Release from Government Departments.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It has been a heavy and exacting week and I am quite sure that we all will be the better for some surcease from the strain of our labours and, perhaps, be better qualified, at least physically, to do the work which we shall have to do next week. It has been arranged that the ‘Commonwealth Bank Bill 1942, which is on the notice-paper, shall be referred to a special parliamentary committee consisting of members of both Houses and all parties. By arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), we have decided that that committee shall consist of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), as chairman, the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser), and Senator Allan MacDonald. The committee will do its work as speedily as it can, and, on its report being made available, the debate will be resumed. I desire to confirm what I said this morning on the adjournment of the House. Some time next week, when the business makes it usefully convenient for me to meet members of both Houses, I propose to inform honorable gentlemen about the state of the country as it is affected by the state of the war. At this moment, as honorable gentlemen will realize, I am not quite able to say whether it will be necessary for us to meet privately. I may be able to deal with the matter without recourse to a private meeting, but there may be some aspects which, on reflection, I should consider to be proper to deal with privately.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) yesterday asked what effect the judgment of the High Court in the Apple and Pear Marketing Board case would have. Copies of the judgment have just come to hand. I shall make a full statement when the House re-assembles. At first glance, it seems that the difficulty may be avoided by amending regulations or, perhaps, amending legislation.
– I recently asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior what provisions gave to persons the right to appeal against a call-up by the Allied Works Council for service in the Civil Constructional Corps. The Minister told me that there were three classes of appeal. I am very glad that that is so, but no authority exists by law for appeals to be made. The right to appeal depends on the whim of the Director-General of the Allied Works Council. I say nothing against him at all, but I do say that, the right of a man to appeal against the call-up should not depend on the will of the Director-General, but should be incorporated in the regulations. I hope that that matter will be considered. The Allied Works Council is creating a great deal of dissatisfaction and causing trouble in the minds of the people. It is a scheme for industrial conscription, and protection against arbitrary treatment by the council should be provided for in1 the regulations and should not depend on the will of the Director-General.
.- The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) announced, I think, on the 30th July that men would be released from the Army for shearing purposes. I am one who sends on to the Minister very few requests for the release of men from the Army. I deal with mo3t of them myself. The other day, however, the Minister made an announcement, with which I am not quarrelling, that men would not be released for shearing. The result is that some men have been released and others have not. This has created the anomaly, at any rate in my electorate, of two men on adjoining properties, one applied early and got his sons or brothers o.ut. of the Army, whilst the other is unable to get anybody out. It is .about time that we got down to a clear understanding of these things. I am quite prepared for the Government to be hard, and I shall support it in being hard, on these matters, but, at the same time,, the administration of the law should press equal all round. We cannot possibly have a state of affairs in. which one man is receiving concessions through the operation of an ill-advised ministerial decision whilst another man is not. So far as I can see, the requisite publicity was not given to the Minister’s statement that he -would not allow any more men to be released from the Army. Great publicity was given to the statement he made last July, that shearers would be released. Honorable members, at least from country constituencies, would welcome a clearcut statement on these matters. It would reduce our correspondence, and the amount of correspondence in government departments, because we are compelled to pass on to the Minister certain cases, the worth of which we are not competent to judge. I know from experience the time that is taken up in dealing with these things not only the time of the Minister, but also the time of every branch of the Army, because they percolate right through the Army to the AdjutantGeneral’s Branch. Much of the time of regimental officers must be taken up by answering questions relating to the release of men, especially when the units contain in strength men from country areas. I suggest, therefore, that the Government,when making an authoritative pronouncement on such a matter as this, should see that it is publicized, not only in the city press,but also in the country newspapers, and over the wireless broadcasting stations in country areas, so that all who are interested shall be aware of its decision. I am perfectly sure that at present they are not.
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [12.45]. - I had brought to my notice last week-end the case of a man who was taken by the Allied Works Council from the Warragamba water supply job and sent to North Queensland, in spite of the fact that it was known that he was more than 60 years of age. That man was sent back within three weeks as being unsuitable, although, as a foreman, he was not subject to heavy labour. That indicates that the medical examination to determine the suitability of men called up by the Allied Works Council must be very faulty. Only three weeks elapsed between the time when the man left Sydney for Queensland and the time when he returned to Sydney. Upon his return he had. to argue with the Allied Works Council about the wages due to him for the time occupied in returning to Sydney. He was removed from the security of a government job to work for the Allied Works Council and then, when he proved to be of no use in the new job, he was left to shift for himself.
There is something wrong with a system that allows the Government to be subjected to the expense of sending an aged man from Sydney to northern Queensland and of then bringing him back to Sydney within a few weeks owing to his unsuitability for labouring work. As the council took the man from his job, it should be compelled now to findwork for him. Every body knows how difficult it is for a man 60 years of age to secure employment. Employers are compelled to re-employ men who return from military service, and the Allied Works Council should be forced to look after the men whom it calls and later discards. The statement to which the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) referred sidestepped his question. It referred to machinery to deal with appeals against callups by the Allied Works Council. The fact is that the regulations already prevent the Allied Works Council from taking men from protected undertakings. Therefore, the proposal to establish an appeals board, if implemented, would result in the employment of unnecessary staff. The Minister also stated that appeals against call-ups on the ground of medical unfitness were dealt with by a panel of doctors at each enrolment bureau. Only a few days ago, I met a man who was called up by the Allied Works Council. He has a duodenal ulcer, but when he informed the authorities of this fact, he was sent before the medical officers who merely sounded his chest and told him that he was perfectly fit and must go to the north. This man should have a special diet, and the probability is that after eating rough-and-ready meals for a few weeks he will -have to be sent back to Sydney. This is a further aspect of the Allied Works Council’s activities that should be examined. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke that appeals against call-ups should not be subject to the whims of any official. Men should be informed when they are called up that they have by regulation the right of appeal without having to apply first to any officer of the council.
Yesterday I asked a question of the Prime Minister in regard to the method of paying men employed in the Civil Constructional Corps. The reply stated -
I have made inquiries and desire to inform the honorable member that the Allied Works Council is a co-ordinating authority, and does not pay wages. The employing authority pays all wages. In no case is portion paid by a State instrumentality and another portion by the Allied Works Council.
There must he considerable confusion over this matter even in the head office, in Sydney. My question referred to the case of a man who worked for the Sydney Maritime Services Trust and was instructed by the Allied Works Council to remain in that job. The council sent a docket to his wife and instructed her to fill it in and return it so that she could receive £6 a fortnight out of her husband’s pay. I considered that the council had made a mistake, and I telephoned the head of the department, Mr. Howard, and asked him about it. He assured me that although the man remained an employee of the Harbour Trust, he would nevertheless have to receive a portion of his wages from the Allied Works Council. I do not know who advised the Prime Minister in preparing a reply to my question, but his statement conflicted definitely with the statement by Mr. Howard. The use of these vouchers involves a great deal of unnecessary clerical work. If the payment of men’s wages is not divided between any State instrumentality and the Allied Works Council, then this system is wasteful in the extreme. Furthermore, it is open to gross abuses. Further inquiries should be made as to the actual position in view of the conflict between the Prime Minister’s statement in reply to my question and the statement made to me by Mr. Howard.
Sitting suspended from 12.56 to 2.15 p.m.
– On the motion for the adjournment of the House on the 29th September, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) referred to the matter of the call-up for military service of N. J. Hackett, of Randwick, New South Wales. I undertook at the time to ascertain the position, and I now present the facts for the information of the honorable member
On the 5th May, 1942, the following communication was received by the Deputy Director-General of Man Power in. New South Wales : -
Noel Hacket. No occupation. Age 28. No. 4 Milford-street, Randwick, has said he fixed it he won’t be called up. I go in to-morrow. Why can’t he?
This communication was sent by the Deputy Director-General of Man Power to the National Service Officer, who forwarded it to the Military Area Officer on the 14th May. The Area Officer informed the National Service Officer that Mr. Hackett is 3>2 years of age, married, and with three dependent children. He was marked “ temporarily unfit “, for three months on the 19th January, 1942, and was re-examined on the 24th April, 1942, when, he was again declared “ temporarily unfit “ for a period of two months. On the 26th June, he received a further month’s exemption, as temporarily unfit, and on the 7th August he was classified as “ fit Bl “. On the 27th August the Deputy Director-General of Man Power received the following communication from Mr. Hackett : -
Owing to the recent death of my father, the estate of which is not yet finalized, I would respectfully request a stay of proceedings on my call-up in order to get matters finalized before proceeding to military duties. This should take place within 28 days.
In accordance with the departmental practice, it was decided that inquiries should be made, pending which the Deputy Director-General of Man Power decided to defer . the call-up of Mr. Hackett until the 31st October. The result of the investigations disclosed that Mr. Hackett was not dependent entirely upon his father’s estate, and as he was not usefully employed in the war effort, the Deputy DirectorGeneral of Man Power decided to cancel the deferment previously made by him, and directed the National Service Officer at Randwick on the 7th September to arrange for Mr. Hackett to be called up for military service immediately. The Deputy Director-General of Man Power was advised by the military that Mr. Hackett entered camp on the 11th September.
.- I am reluctant to add to the troubles of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) but in the absence of the appropriate Minister, I ask him to give consideration to an anomaly which has been brought to my notice. The Department of the Army requested a tallow manufacturing company in northern Tasmania to send its tallow to Melbourne. As honorable members are probably aware, glycerine, which is used in the manufacture of explosives, is extracted from tallow. At the same time, another government department, the Allied Works Council, has prohibited the oil companies from supplying the tallow company with the drums required for transferring the tallow to Melbourne. It is impossible to transfer tallow in hessian bags or similar containers. The oil drums which the company had been using were secondhand or damaged articles.
– Could not casks be used ?
– Casks may be suitable, but even they are unprocurable. The position is that one government department insists upon the despatch of the tallow to Melbourne, but another government department, is frustrating it. This conflict places the company in a cleft-stick. It does not know what to do. I ask the Treasurer to take steps to clarify the issue.
.- I desire to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to an anomaly arising out of the housing conditions of locomotive enginemen. Under the National Security Regulations, munitions workers have priority in obtaining accommodation in country districts. At centres where those factories are in operation, there are usually railway depots, the work of which has vastly increased lately. This necessitates the despatch of nien from the metropolitan area to perform this very responsible work in country towns. But they are unable to obtain accommodation for themselves or their families because of the priority that is given to munitions workers. I emphasize that these locomotive enginemen are doing a most important work, but their conditions differ vastly from those of munitions workers. For example, they are called upon at any hour of the day or night to take charge of a train.
Boarding house proprietors will not cater for them and in the circumstances, they must bring their families to the country towns in which they are temporarily placed. In my opinion, they should be given the same priority as munitions workers in regard to housing accommodation.
.- Some months ago, representations were made in this chamber regarding the profiteering in the sale of tobacco, particularly loose tobacco. As the result of those representations, the Department of Trade and Customs conducted an investigation, and action was taken to remedy the evil. The first step was to fix the price of loose tobacco at 9Jd. an oz., and the second step was to issue an order requiring all vendors of loose tobacco to register with the Prices Commissioner the price of each blend, together with the cost of the various tobaccoes contained therein. Possession of that information would give to the Prices Commissioner a basis on which to fix the cost of the blend. Unfortunately those precautions have failed in practice. Profiteering is still rampant, and the public is still very dissatisfied with the present situation. I have received many protests against this exploitation. To-day, no loose tobacco is available at the fixed price, namely, 9½d. an oz. Even tobacco which used to be sold at prices ranging from 104d. to ls. an oz. is unprocurable, but some so-called proprietary lines are being sold at prices ranging from ls. 3d. to ls. 5d. an oz. These tobaccoes, in themselves, are mainly rubbish. In fact the Minister for Trade and Customs, who has a good knowledge of tobacco, has described, these blends as “nothing but rubbish “. The agitation has been taken up by the press, and I quote an extract from the Age of the 5th September, some time after the new order had been made -
At the outbreak of war the bulk of the cheaper kinds of tobacco was sold for 6d. and Rid. an oz. ; now the usual minimum price for this inferior tobacco was ls. 3d. an oz. - an increase of nearly Ils. 8d. per lb., of which war-time increases in excise duty (prior to those now announced) amounted to only 3s. 9d
That appears to be an exorbitant price for these tobaccoes, because they are not really smokeable. I have tried them, and I believe that they consist largely of odds and ends from the corners of the shop. The time has come to take more drastic action to prevent this exploitation of the public. Three reasons appear to have led to the apparent failure of the precautions taken by the department. First, no publicity has. been given to the order. Numerous vendors of tobacco in Melbourne, and I have no doubt in other large cities, have no knowledge of it. They sell these so-called tobaccoes, oblivious of the fact that they are prohibited from doing so by the prices regulations. As the public also has no knowledge of the order, sales are made, and no definite action is taken to prevent them. Secondly, the whole situation is most difficult to handle; that I readily admit. In Melbourne, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 vendors of tobacco, and I suppose that the number throughout Australia would range between 6,000 and 8,000. Many of these tobacconists have their own ideas about blends. In one shop window a. few days ago, no fewer than ten different sorts of loose tobaccoes were advertised for sale. None of them was a registered brand, and none of them was available at 9W. an oz.
If the department, wishes to control this trade by the present procedure, an enormous amount of work will be entailed in placing the trade upon a proper footing. For example, voluminous correspondence would be required, and the Prices Commissioner would be obliged to have each brand assessed, for the purpose of enabling him to fix a fair price in accordance with the value of the tobacco. Thirdly, the enormous volume of correspondence would necessitate the employment of substantial personnel and at the present time, manpower and woman-power are required for more important duties. The difficulty lies in the administration and policing of the regulation.
The Minister has urged the public to co-operate, with the department for the purpose of seeing that the orders are properly obeyed. But the .public knows nothing of the regulations, and of the various brands which are authorized. People cannot estimate whether the tobacco which they purchase particularly unwrapped tobacco, conforms to the brand. I therefore suggest that steps should be taken immediately to regularize the whole position, and make the situation more satisfactory to the smoking public. The need is immediate. People who smoke object to being robbed. This situation is not a transitory one. As time passes, tobacco will become more and more difficult to obtain. Tie war is not likely to terminate soon, and we must be prepared for a state of affairs that is likely to last for at least a year or perhaps for several years. Therefore, the department should take immediate action to deal with the matter.
In conclusion. I make three suggestions to the Minister for Trade and Customs as to ways and means for dealing with the problem. First, any action by the department should be properly publicized so that not only the vendors of tobacco, but. also the public, shall know the. exact position. Secondly, steps should be taken to simplify the procedure regarding the sale of loose tobacco. Instead of permitting tobacconists to sell many brands or blends, the department should reduce the number so that they can be supervised by. the authorities. .It is useless to try to fix the price for thousands of different blends. What the public requires is a few tobaccoes which are smokeable and which conform to the regulations. Thirdly, any action taken should be designed to ensure that ‘ tobaccoes for sale are properly labelled in such a way that the same class of tobacco cannot be sold under different names. I suggest that loose tobacco should be done up in packages or labelled under seal. The public should have some means of knowing what price it is under obligation to pay for such tobacco. I hope that the Government will consider these suggestions as quickly as possible, and act upon them.
– I call the attention of the Government to the need for action to he taken to remedy the overlapping in the calling up of men by the Army and man-power authorities. The recent complaints of many honorable members on this subject have been amply justified. An urgent need exists for a greater measure of coordination between the two authorities.
Many honorable members are “well aware that, while certain men are being released from the Army to engage in either seasonal or permanent rural activities, other men are being called Tip by the manpower authorities from their present agricultural service. The position is, in fact, chaotic. As an illustration of the present unsatisfactory state of affairs, I direct attention to the cases of two men employed at the Canberra railway station. My information is that a porter named Hall, a resident of Canberra, 39 years of age, single, and a porter named Hurley, a resident of Queanbeyan, 21 years of age, married, were both called up. Hall and Hurley were passed in the Al class. Hurley was in the Militia when he was called up. Subsequently, both, men were granted exemption by the man-power authorities. In the meantime, two other men - a returned soldier from the last war 50 years of age, and a civilian unfit for military duties - were engaged in the places of Hall and Hurley at the Canberra railway station and,, according to the stationmaster, performed satisfactorily the service required of them. They appear to me to be men who should be performing work of the kind they were doing. Both Hall and Hurley returned to their work at the Canberra railway station after their release from the Army, and the men who had ‘been doing their work were discharged. This happening illustrates the urgent need for closer collaboration between, and co-ordination of, the activities of the Army and the man-power authorities in connexion with the call-up. Honorable members who have served on parliamentary committees are well aware of the present chaotic conditions. If a conflict of opinion leads to absurdities in relation to one department, it leads to equal absurdities in relation, to the other. I therefore ask the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) whether he will make a close investigation of the whole position with a view to achieving a much-needed co-ordination of effort?
.- At my request, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has laid upon the table of the Library a copy of a letter dated the 22nd
August, 1940, addressed to the former Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) by Mr. A. B. Piddington, K.C, on the subject of family endowment and other matters affecting the population position of Australia. In view of the declared intention of this Government to seek greater constitutional powers for the Commonwealth by means of a referendum, I consider that Mr. Piddington^ letter is deserving of the widest publicity. It will be of interest not only to the present generation, but also to future generations of Australians. Mr. Piddington is a distinguished Australian who was formerly a justice of the High Court of Australia and, for a long period, the president of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales with the rank of a Justice of the Supreme Court of that State. He also acted as chairman of a royal commission appointed many years ago by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when he was Prime Minister, to investigate questions relative to the basic wage, and to recommend an amount that would be adequate for the maintenance of an average family in this country. Mr. Piddington is the author of a small book entitled The Next Step, which had an important influence on the development of wage-fixation legislation in this country. He deserved well of the last generation of Australians, and he deserves well of this and subsequent generations. The parts of his letter which are of special interest are as follows: -
I was glad to read in the papers of the 26th July that Mr. Spender is considering Commonwealth family endowment. This and- this alone will save Australia from conquest by the first overflowing population that, in this century of mass racial organization for world partition, has its hands free. I suppose there is not a Minister of the Crown anywhere in the Empire who does not know that if Japan had not been embroiled with China and Russia, Australia would have been attacked immediately after the Compiegne. Armistice, if not immediately after Munich.
Nor is there any such Minister or ordinary citizen in the Commonwealth who does not know that Australia has been, for years, the danger-point of the Empire. It has been gloriously pioneered since responsible government, but its day is over since the biological defeat of the race through anarchical distribution of production was made clear by the statistics of declining birth-rate, unimproved maternal mortality rate, and unimproved young mortality rate.
The result is -
Natural law will obliterate an unnatural population. No species, animal or vegetable, is allowed by natural law to survive unless it reproduce in sufficient numbers, made efficient by adequate nutriment, to defend its habitat and feeding grounds from any invading species.
Our birth-rate in 1860 the first recorded year was 42.6 per 1,000. Responsible government came in about that year.
It has never been sufficiently remembered that the British Parliament accompanied that splendid spiritual gift with an equally splendid material gift. The whole territorial mass of Australia, so far as it was not then alienated by Crown grant, was vested in the several colonial parliaments.
This unequalled patrimony (for no Empire and no century has ever founded an offspring nation so generously) has become a continent of racial decay.
Simultaneously soil erosion has set in on the same scale as race erosion. Our birth-rate is now (1938) 17.46. Its graph since 1860 is a slope to stagnation. The graph on page 300 of the Commonwealth YearBook of 1939 exhibits the birth-rate and the death-rate since 1860 in a pincers movement, now on the point of compressing our racelife. For the salvation of the soil, as for every other national need, race erosion achieves a frustration of every effort. We have not got the workers for soil salvation. We have not enough men of military age to defend the country; we have not enough boys and girls aged sixteen to become apprentices to skilled trades; we have not enough fitters or electrical mechanics, or women signallers. We have plenty and more than plenty of deadenders, e.g., shop girls, office boys, flunkeys, clerks, &c, but they have not the aptitude for adult or post school education in skilled occupations.
We produce enough wheat, meat, wool, timber, fruit, honey, &c, to provide every family in city or country with a full larder for three square meals a day under a decent roof; yet we export surpluses of all these requisites.
At the moment we are providing for thousands of evacuee families. We can do it easily. But more easily we could restore the Australian family as an institution.
I, therefore, submit that a legislative programme should be now undertaken for family restoration. This is the avowed policy of the Petain Government, its Prime Minister having ascribed the seconddebacle of France to “ too few children “. It is the policy of the Hitler regime and the Mussoliniregime.
With the two latter it is espoused chiefly to provide more food for powder a base motive.
No restrictions or embargoes on birthcontrol literature will have any effect in Australia. People will not have children, because they think, and doctors and our distribution laws make them think, that it is not right to bring children into the life of Australia when they are uncertain how to bring them up.
Abortion is now so common that at a large gathering of doctors the secretary said that in a research at the morguehe had found that abortion was the commonest cause of Sydney fatalities, next after motor accidents.
May I, therefore, suggest -
Family endowment of 10s. per week for every child under sixteen beginning when a doctor certifies that the woman is expectant, as under our child maintenance law.
Commonwealth subsidies to State schools to enable compulsory education to continue to sixteen.
Marriage loans of £100 to women needing dowry, to be redeemed by £25 as each child is born.
A housing programme, to supersede by a turning movement the deterrent landlordism that now rules all grades of family life.
It should be provided that nothing in any act of the Parliament should be allowed to reduce the accepted living wage in the Commonwealth, whether under Commonwealth or State judicial determination.
Such a programme would be a notice to the world that we intended to hold Australia by the growth of our race within it. It is the answer to the Lebesraum precept of the aggressor races. It would be a muchneeded attraction for voluntary immigration.
All parties have at one time or another professed the necessity of these objectives. For example, both parties at the 1925 election made No. 1 (family endowment) a prominent plank, Mr. Bruce describing it as “of vital importance to Australia”. In 1927, it was adopted in New South Wales, and, later on, sent to a royal commission with a typical result.
Any party that opposed such a programme would to-day be obliterated.
This is the only way to get new blood, or rejuvenated blood or lively blood into a country that for a whole generation has been retarded by small-scale thinking, as Mr. Morrison calls it.
Would itbe too much to ask that this letter might be circulated to Ministers?
Mr. Piddington’s letter was circulated by the then Prime Minister to the members of his Cabinet, and probably, as a result of it, a scheme of family endowment was subsequently submitted by the Menzies Government to this Parliament and approved by it to the distinct benefit of our people.
– It is. We discussed this subject a few days ago, and I am hopeful that in the future both private and public donations for the assistance of education in this country will be greater than they have been in the past, and that we shall not have to reproach ourselves because our education system lags behind that of other countries.
I bring to the notice of the Minister for Air the case of F. W. Roope, who occupied the temporary position of staff officer in the Air Finance Office of the Department of Air. He was relieved of the position in what seems to me to have been unsatisfactory circumstances. I have the feeling that possibly he was not wanted in the department, not because he was insubordinate or unsatisfactory, but because his ideas were different from those of men who walk in a certain groove and do not welcome innovations. He has exhausted his legal rights, and I do not know how the problem might be dealt with. I have every sympathy with him and do not feel that he has’ been justly dealt with. Perhaps the Minister for Air will personally examine his papers.
I have been supplied with a sample of tobacco known as Washington Mixture, which is retailed at ls. 3d. an ounce. I am not a tobacco smoker, and have no knowledge of the various brands or qualities of tobacco; but I do know rubbish when I see it. This Washington Mixture consists for the most part of tobacco stalks that have not even been chopped into small portions. If a chopping machine has been used on them, it must have been a chaff-cutter. At all events, it would be impossible for any person to smoke it. It should not have been allowed to be offered for sale under any pure foods act. Perhaps the matter comes under State rather than Commonwealth jurisdiction. But the Commonwealth has such tremendous powers today, and exercises them in so many directions, that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) might regulate the flow of tobacco on to the market in respects additional to quantity and price. The matter of quality certainly needs attention. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) in that regard, and hope that early action will be taken, because this is not the first occasion on which the matter has been raised; I raised it last June. Protests are still flowing in against the supply of ten.th-rate tobacco to the Australian public, at high prices which are charged in a perfectly legal manner; because the brands offered for sale are not registered, and, apparently, prices control does not operate in respect of unregistered brands as it does in relation to registered brands.
– -I realize, as must other honorable members, that on the motion for the adjournment of the House it is unsatisfactory to have to deal with matters which one regards as important, in the presence of only seven members and two Ministers, especially as neither of the latter is in any way responsible for the matter with which I wish to deal. However, it is incumbent upon me to speak of the matter, even to a nearly empty House, because of the effect it is having on the Commonwealth. I refer to the tremendous waste and extravagance throughout Australia in relation to food supplies, particularly potatoes. Yesterday, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs a question in reference to potatoes that had deteriorated on the wharfs in Sydney, yet were being distributed to the public. It is known that there is an extreme shortage of supplies of potatoes in Australia. They are not a constituent of the meals provided at the hotels in Canberra, and they are similarly lacking in the restaurants, hotels, and private houses in Melbourne. Yet, any one who has been engaged in the industry for many years, or has studied the production statistics from year to year,, knows that there is not now so great a shortage of production as there has been in other years. Never previously, during my lifetime, has there been an occasion when the people of this country could not obtain this food. It is quite evident that, there has been tremendous wastage. During the budget debate, I referred to the Commonwealth Potato Committee, which has been operating for some time. Yesterday, the honorable member for Dalley was informed by the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) that, in the opinion of that gentleman, the matter ought to be taken up by the Australian Food Council. This is just another case of extraordinary overlapping by a number of departments which are trying to handle different matters. No one can ascertain where the responsibility of one ends and that of the next commences. The Commonwealth Potato Committee and the Australian Food Council deal with precisely the same subject. The more committees and tribunals there are, the greater becomes the chaos and waste. 1 have seen potatoes on a wharf in Tasmania for five weeks, deteriorating the whole of the rime; they had been dug when immature. Presumably, the Army acquired them and they were awaiting transport, although the matter was being handled by the Commonwealth Potato Committee. We have been informed that potatoes were being transported to many parts of Australia in which food supplies were being established. Knowing definitely that waste i occurring in such directions, it is not unreasonable for one to suppose that it is taking place also in a number of others. Brigadier Gorman is probably doing very useful work. He was appointed to endeavour to correct extravagances in the Army. I have read certain of hi= remarks in respect of the responsibility of commanding officers. I agree that those officers have responsibility, and could do quite a lot, especially in regard to discipline. But those who are in command of the higher formations have not the necessary knowledge, and junior officers have not the authority. Although the Army is notoriously extravagant, it is not alone responsible in this particular matter. Different committees are appointed, and what has resulted has been due to the manner in which they have been discharging their functions. Frightful waste is continuing, particularly through the deterioration of stored supplies. I repeat, there is not a grave shortage of potato production; but there is a shortage of supplies to the public for the reasons I have mentioned. This matter should be attended to immediately by the responsible authorities. It could be largely corrected. The trouble is that one department blames another. The Minister for Supply and Development says that the matter is one for the Army, but that he considers that the Australian Food Council might very well investigate it. One body passes the responsibility to another. This is going on under our eyes. Corrective measures should be taken in view of the prediction of a: shortage of food supplies in this country. The producer will do his job. If distribution were made through ordinary channels, there would be less waste. But, when bodies are appointed that have no knowledge of the subject, and pass the blame on to others, nothing but confusion can develop. There is no matter in Australia that demands closer investigation and action by the Government than the tremendous waste and extravagance that exist. It should be tackled, and corrected immediately. If we wait until Brigadier Gorman has investigated every item, much delay will occur.
.- The honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell) has dealt with a matter in which I have a profound interest, and in which all honorable members should deeply concern themselves. Naturally, I am entirely sympathetic with the Government, in the election of which [ took some little part. Not only am I sympathetic, but I also realize that Ministers are endeavouring, to the best of their ability, to cope with a mammoth task, which presents ever-changing facets and new responsibilities-. Whilst recognizing that, one must impress upon the Government, even by way of helpful criticism, one’s own experience, and musttry to persuade it, if persuasion be needed, of the profound importance of preserving the food supplies of the people in a time of war. The food question is not one that can be postponed - it recurs from day to day and from hour to hour. The soldiers on active service have to be fed, but it is no less important to feed the civil population. I insist that wars are not fought by soldiers for soldiers; they are fought by soldiers to preserve the civil populations, and the institutions which we respect and desire to maintain. It appears to me that the Government, in its efforts to obtain men for the Army, has achieved something of a dis-equilibrium between the necessities of the civil population and the needs of the fighting forces. There need be, as I gathered from the Minister for “War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), no shortage of food in Australia. However, I maintain that there is a very serious deterioration of the supply of food, and there is a very real threat of an impending shortage of food if the Government does not take in hand, as something at least as important as that of providing men for the Army, the matter of supplying food to the people. One need not go beyond our experience in this House to realize how the food situation has deteriorated. I ask for no preferential treatment in the matter of food supplied in the refreshment rooms, and we are certainly not getting any. While the price of food is rising all the time, the quality is everywhere deteriorating, and nowhere more markedly than in the parliamentary refreshment rooms. I mention that as something which is symptomatic of what is going on everywhere. Why should there be any real difficulty in supplying the people with adequate quantities of such foodstuffs as fruit - which is allowed to rot upon the trees, or is dug into the ground - or vegetables, which are plants of quick growth, and should be supplied to an anxious and suffering people, not in smaller, but in greater, quantities than in normal times? I have heard complaints that people have been compelled to allow milch cows to run at large with their calves at foot because labour cannot be obtained for milking. This necessarily affects the supplies of milk, butter and cheese. If the military position becomes acute, the food position may very well become even more acute than it is now. There is nothing more distressing, or more disturbing to the morale of the people, than the fear that children and invalids especially may be deprived of necessary sustenance. I cannot help feeling that the Government has, in regard to this matter, a grave responsibility which it has not yet properly discharged. It is a dreadful thing to see in shops in congested areas fruit - apples notably - of inferior quality offered at famine prices when, to my certain knowledge, the trees were laden with beautiful fruit, which was afterwards dug into the ground as manure for the soil. It is surely a confession of weakness that such ‘a state of affairs should obtain. The wheat industry has its champions in this Parliament, and usually we have a large exportable surplus of wheat. It is even said that we should discourage the growing of wheat because we have ample supplies for a considerable time ahead. In my opinion, it is a very dangerous thing to curtail production of essential foodstuffs on the ground that we have stocks on hand; we do not know what disabilities may be imposed upon us, and the production of food may be arbitrarily restricted through circumstances over which we have no control. I appeal to Ministers to direct their minds intensively to this matter of food supplies for the people.
I desire to call the attention of the Government once more to what might almost be called the deportation of men from the southern States to far-distant States by the Allied Works Council. I admit that the council has, in a measure, been efficient and thorough - I think too thorough, undiscriminatingly thorough in some cases. When a man of 53 years of age, the father of five children under sixteen, is told to report for training at Maribyrnong, and to hold himself in readiness to go to Queensland seven days later in order to drive a truck for the Government, he has, I believe, a just grievance. Such a case was reported to me recently. I asked the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini) the other day whether he considered that we had reached such a state of emergency as to justify the taking of a man with such domestic responsibilities so far afield as Queensland for the purpose of doing unfamiliar work at a wage considerably less than he had been earning. I am afraid that I was rather testy with the Assistant Minister when he proceeded to lecture me upon the gravity of the situation in a military sense. With great respect to him, I do not need to be lectured on that matter; I think that I am just as well seised of it as is the Minister. The answer which he gave me disregarded one-half of my question, and misrepresented me as to the other half.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Government to an instance of the futile expenditure of money and man-power in certain government munitions factories. I have been given definite information that in some factories thousands of pounds have been expended, and many men and women employed, on elaborate costing systems which are incomplete, unreliable and useless for the purpose for which they were installed. One aircraft factory in which a system of this kind is employed has already turned out a large number of aircraft, yet it is impossible to learn the cost of a single unit. Investigation will disclose that this is happening in all other factories in. which the Government is interested. The men and women employed on this futile work could be better employed elsewhere.
– Gould any proper costing system de devised?
– No costing system is effective unless it is related to the financial result. It is of no use to cost a single unit at £1,000, if the manufacture of 100 units costs £150,000, and that is what is happening. The Joint Committee on Wai- Expenditure, of which I am a member, was delighted when it was told in evidence that costing system? were in operation, but our misgivings returned when we found on examination that the systems were worse than useless because they were misleading.
I consider that many governmental activities could be suspended for the period of the war, and men thereby released for work more closely associated with winning the war. The feeling is abroad that, although the Government is quite ready to compel the curtailment of private business, it is loath to curtail its own activities, and that some government departments are sheltering behind the fact that they are, as it were, a protected industry. The Government should, set the example and release all- the men and women it can spare to take part in the war effort.
.- The matter raised by the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell) is of sufficient importance to Warrant a full dress debate, and it is unfortunate that it cannot be debated more fully, with more honorable members present. The housewife who finds her choice of manufactured commodities restricted readily accepts the explanation that the shortage is caused by the demands of the war on man-power, but she finds difficulty in understanding why primary commodities, apples for instance, are so scarce and dear when she knows that they grow in abundance and require no secondary handling. It would be opportune for honorable members who represent the more densely settled parts of the Commonwealth to debate the operations of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. When that instrumentality is discussed generally the speakers are honorable members from districts where apples are grown. One of the mysteries of this war is the fact that a fruit which Australia grows in such abundance that the Minister for “War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) is threatening to limit its production should be so scarce. But shortage of apples is merely illustrative of the general shortage of primary commodities. We know that the troops in the northern areas require large quantities of citrus fruits in order to obtain necessary vitamins, but the people find difficulty in reconciling what almost amounts to deprivation with the large quantities of citrus fruits that we normally grow. Another extraordinary development .of the war is the fact that, whereas normally we produce and can sufficient pineapples to meet the requirements of our population of 7,000,000, leaving a substantial surplus for export, to-day the quantity of canned pineapple available is merely sufficient to meet the requirements of the Army. I could go to greater detail in providing instances of shortages of commodities which are customarily available in great quantities. Superficially the shortage is difficult to explain, and to most honorable members the superficial view is the only one available. One is forced to the conclusion that co-ordination is faulty between the various governmental instrumentalities which deal with different aspects of supply and distribution. I do not pretend to know very much about the operations of the AustralianFood Council. I know, however, that it is the function of the Department of Supply and Development to meet, the needs of the services. One is apt to have one’s confidence shaken, however, when one hears of such an absurdity as this: It has been reported to me that canned fruit salad was requisitioned for the American troops. In order to comply with the requisition, the Australian authorities returned to the Shepparton cannery quantities of canned peaches, pears, apricot; and pineapples for re-treatment. The cans were opened and emptied, the fruit sliced, and some passionfruit added. The fruit was re-canned as fruit salad. The shortage of tin plate is so intense as to make impossible the packing of certain commodities which were canned in peace time. The syrup which was wasted in that operation contained large quantities of sugar, a commodity which is rationed. Manpower which could have been otherwise occupied was used. I am certain that, if our American allies had been told that their requisition entailed such a waste of men and materials, they would not have insisted. Instances of that kind could be multiplied, and it is no wonder that our confidence is shaken. No private member appreciates the difficulties of the Department of Supply and Development more than I do, because, earlier in the war, I was actively associated with it. I do not quarrel with the policy that the Army has first call on commodities, but I do object to the rigidity of the application of freezing orders. It would appear that once a commodity has been frozen that is the end of it; that a surplus may be available after the Army’s requirements have been met is of no account. Surplus or no surplus, the public goes without. Greater flexibility would enable the making available to the civilian population of the surplus after the Army has been satisfied. The whole problem is wrapped up in the general problem of manpower and this, perhaps, is not the time to examine in any detail the
Government’s policy in respect of that. The Government must make a close analysis of its manpower programmes. Almost every section of the armed forces and the war industries pursues its own programme with very little regard to other needs. The Air Force and the Army visualize the expansion of their services and place their requirements above those of all others. The munitions industries, and those industries which are concerned with the production of clothing and food, all have their special problems, and they see them from one point of view only. It is only natural that each should attach more importance to its own requirements than to the requirements of others. The Government must exercise its authority and make a review of the situation in order to ensure a fair allocation of our limited supply of manpower. In my view we have not preserved a proper balance between all branches of essential production and the armed forces. The military experts have fixed a requirement of manpower that has not yet been satisfied. Not so very long ago, some of our experts told us that we could hold Australia against a seaborne force with a highly mobile army organization of about 100,000 men. We have many times that number of men in the Army organization now. Surely, we shall reach a point at which we must cease to expand our activities. We have been told that the Government will require 138,000 more persons in order to carry out its full war programme. Each month the figures are reviewed and new and higher totals are set. I hope that the Government will examine the position closely and endeavour to achieve a proper balance between the different branches of our war effort.
– Possible shortages of foodstuffs and the waste caused by badly organized distribution were discussed by the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell), the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). These problems affect two or three departments. Officers of the Departments of Commerce,Supply and Development, and War Organization of Industry are meeting their respective Ministers almost daily, and I shall see that attention is drawn to the statements of the honorable members so that the matters can be considered. It is not easy to overcome the difficulties that confront these departments. There is considerable waste in Tasmania and other places owing to transport difficulties. The Australian Food Council has been brought into existence to deal with food shortages, and it now has a transport organization associated with it. The food problem involves, not only the maintenance of existing supplies for the armed forces and the civil population, but also the building up of reserves against possible emergencies. Millions of tons of all kinds of foodstuffs are being processed, canned, and stored in rural districts. The Government has made an intensive examination of our resources in order to enable it to deal with the evacuation of the populations of various areas which might be attacked by the enemy. One of the first things that it realized was the danger of large masses of people evacuating to other cities, thus causing congestion and increasing the difficulties of the armed, forces and the supply organization. Mass evacuations caused a great deal of harm in France. Therefore, the Government realized that it would have to store food in the interior of the continent, and it decided to establish immense reserve stocks in various inland districts. The honorable member for Fawkner suggested that we might be trying to arm and train more men than would be needed to hold the country against a seaborne invasion. He said that a figure of 100,000 men had been mentioned. We may be training five or six times that number today, because we must protect thousands of miles of coast-line any point of which may be attacked by the enemy. We must be able to disperse our forces over a very large area, and therefore we must increase our strength so as to have adequate forces available to go into action at any locality.
The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) spoke about the supply, price and quality of tobacco. This is a matter for the Minister for Trade and Customs (.Senator
Keane), and I shall draw his attention to their remarks. The honorable member for Melbourne also referred to the danger of the falling birth-rate and said that Australia was becoming an old man’s country.
– The birth-rate has increased recently.
– Yes, but I do not know how long that improvement, will be maintained. The letter from Mr. A. B. Piddington on this subject, which the honorable member for Melbourne quoted, has been read by most of us. However, I shall read it again, and file it in my department for further examination. The honorable member for Batman referred to the economic losses suffered by breadwinners who were called up for armed service or for service with the Civil Constructional Corps. I point out that these are the repercussions from the scientific organization of the nation’s resources which the honorable member mentioned. The Government is doing what must be done, and it cannot help hurting somebody in the process. The most that we can do is to try to make these losses as small as possible. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) spoke about railwaymen, who are doing essential work, being shifted from one locality to another owing to the exigencies of the war-time situation. He made out a good case for the granting of preference to their housing needs. The Minister for Transport (Mr. George Lawson) has advised me that this matter will be further considered, and that railwaymen will get whatever priority can be given to them in view of the importance of their work. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) spoke about the calling up of primary producers for war service. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) has informed me that there will be no further call-ups of men employed in primary industries. The problem of releasing men from the Army for work in primary industries is being considered by the Army authorities, and the Minister will discuss it with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Guy) directed attention to what appears to be a very serious anomaly. He stated that the Department of the Army had instructed a tallow manufacturing factory in northern Tasmania to despatch its entire output to Melbourne; and that, simultaneously, another government department had prohibited the supply to the factory of oil drums in which the tallow is normally transported, and for which no suitable substitute container can be found. As glycerine is urgently required for the explosives industry, the representations of the honorable member will receive immediate attention.
The honorable member for Batman criticized what he described as the unbalanced method of recruiting for the Army, and declared that the present system would jeopardize the production of adequate food supplies for the fighting forces and civil needs. The answer that I gave to the honorable member forFawkner and the honorable member for Darwin is equally applicable to the contentions of the honorable member for Batman.
The views of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) regarding the callingup of men bythe Allied Works Council will be conveyed to the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings).
The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) declared that the present costing system used by government departments results in a deplorable wastage of manpower. Whilst I shall refer the complaint to the Treasurer and to the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin), I remind the honorable member that the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, of which he is a member, is expected to examine that problem. About two years ago, the Department of the Army obtained the services of the best costing experts in Australia, and they were stationed in the capital cities. Perhaps a good deal of overlapping and wastage of valuable service has occurred, and I shall discuss the matter with the appropriate Ministers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Orders - Military powers during emergency (11).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Basis of compensation.
Control of -
Overseas postal communications.
Taking possession of land, &c. (151).
Use of land (12).
National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 26-33.
National Security (Medical Co-ordination and Equipment) Regulations - Orders -
Control of medical equipment (2).
Emergency medical service.
National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Rules -
Trial of prisoners of war.
House adjourned at 3.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Allied Works Council.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that the United Kingdom Government has been in negotiation with the Japanese Government for the establishment of a postal service to prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese hands? 2.If so, is the Commonwealth a party to these negotiations? 4.Is it a fact that in June, to avoid delay, the British PostmasterGeneral invited relatives to post letters and postcards for transmission to prisoners ofwar and civilian internees ?
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1942/19421002_reps_16_172/>.