16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the desire of lie citizens of Launceston that an aerodrome shall be provided in close proximity to that city, will the Minister for Air examine such -a proposal when he makes his contemplated visit to Tasmania ?
– I have not had a request, other than that which the honorable member has made in his question, nor have representations been made to me so far by any authority in Tasmania for the establishment of an aerodrome at Launceston. I shall have the matter examined if I visit Tasmania; and if the visit has to be deferred, I shall have a report furnished as to the desirability of such a project.
– I understand that men about to be discharged from the Army are requested by the Department of Labour and National Service to fill in a form, which I gather is an application form in respect of employment. A question that appears on it is : “ Do you belong to a union? If so, what? “ Will the Prime Minister state the purpose of this question? Can he give the assurance that the prospects of employment of any man will not be prejudiced in any way by his having to confess that he does not belong to a trade union?
– There is no prejudicial effect in respect of employment.,” I shall ascertain the reason for asking the question.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, while the honorable member for Fawkner was a Minister in a previous government, applicants for. temporary employment in the Public Service had to answer on a form the question, “ Are you a member of a union ? “
– I shall ascertain whether there has been any change in the practice in this connexion.
– On the 3rd instant I asked the Prime Minister whether there was in Australia any censorship of news items and articles published in the press of the United States of America. The right honorable gentleman replied, “ There is no censorship in Australia of news items or articles published in any part of the world, unless they affect military security “. In the light of this answer, will the right honorable gentleman state why the issue of Farm Implement News dated the 26th November, 1942, published in Chicago, has had excised from it, presumably by the Australian Censor, a programme for the December Farm Dealers Convention, also a portion of the report of a speech by Lieutenant-General W. S. Knudson, Director of Production in the War Department of the United States of America? Does the right honorable gentleman affirm that the matter deleted, which waa passed by the Censor of the United States of America, affects, military security in Australia? If not, how does he reconcile the action of the Australian Censor with his statement?
– I should need to know a great deal more than I do in order to answer all the questions asked by the honorable gentleman. In matters of policy, the Australian censor does not exercise a censorship of any matter except on the ground- of military security. There is no interference by him. with expressions of opinion or with ideas that any person may have. I shall ascertain whether he made the deletions to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I have not any doubt that if he did, he bad quite a satisfactory reason for his action.
– - The Minister for Home Security is aware that different conditions apply in New South Wales and Queensland in respect of the use of motor car headlights. Will the honorable gentleman review the matter in order to determine whether, in the southern parts of Queensland, the users of motor cars at night may have the existing restrictions modified so as to .bring them more into conformity with those that now operate in New South Wales?
– Recently, there has been a new appreciation of ‘brown-out conditions, including those that should operate in respect of the headlights on motor cars. These were relaxed in some degree in New South Wales in the area south of Port Macquarie. Representations have since been made by the Queensland authorities to the Department of Home Security for the same relaxation in south-west Queensland. The matter Ls being considered by the defence authorities, and I hope to be able to make a definite reply to the honorable mem’ber in a day or two.
– Last Friday, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked why the transport branch of tie Brisbane office of my department was not open on Australia day, the 1st February, to attend to matters relating to interstate transport, and contended that this had caused considerable hindrance to production. I am now in a position to state that the Brisbane office of the Department of War Organization of Industry was open for all business on the 1st February. Adequate provision was made to meet applications for interstate transport permits. Six telephone calls were made regarding permits, and a number of personal applications were attended to during the day. Production in Queensland was not hampered, as the honorable member stated.
– I have received the following communication from a member of the 5th Garrison Battalion in Western Australia : -
Yesterday I received a notice from the Divisional Returning Officer at Bunbury, stating that an objection had been raised to my enrolment on the ground of change pf address, and that ray name was being removed from the roll. I have, of course, raised an objection to such action. I And that other members of this unit have been notified similarly, and I think the matter deserves your consideration. Obviously a soldier cannot be sure that hia address will not change, and it was my impression that his pre-enlistment enrolment held good for the duration of his service. If we are good enough to fight for the country we should be good enough to vote for it.
The officer who passed the letter added to it the note, “ I also received an objection to my enrolment.” In view of the seriousness of the matter, will the Prime Minister make a public statement, or give a direction to Divisional Returning Officers that our soldiers are not to be harassed in this way?
– I shall consult with the Minister for the Interior, who will, I am sure, issue the necessary instruction if such an instruction is required. I do not think that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer would delete any soldier’s name from the roll so long as the place of residence of that soldier remained unchanged. Since the last compilation of the roll for the purpose of an election, a great number of young men, who ordinarily would have applied for enrolment upon reaching the age of twenty-one have neglected to do so because they are serving with the forces.
– That does not apply in this case.
– No, but this is related to the same matter. The Government, proposes to bring down legislation to assure to soldiers the enjoyment of their rights as citizens, notwithstanding that they have not technically complied with the requirements of the law.
– Will they be enrolled in the electorates from which they enlisted?
– Yes. Everything will be done to protect the citizen rights of soldiers serving with the forces.
– Has the attention, of the Minister for the Army been drawn to the case of Mrs. Christina Gavan, of Bankstown, whose eldest son was shot dead eight months ago while on military guard duty? Mrs. Gavan has been refused the full payment of an insurance policy because, it is stated, the Army will not supply documentary evidence of her son’s death. I understand that there was a policy of £150 on the life of her son and that the insurance company has paid £40, but refuses to pay the balance until evidence is forthcoming as to the cause of death. An official of the insurance company said that, in order to complete the claim, an inspection of the inquest depositions was necessary. The Army authorities were most helpful, he said, hut the Security Branch had refused to allow even a trusted officer to view the depositions. Will the Minister look into the matter with a view to taking such action as may expedite the payment of the claim in full ?
– An immediate investigation will be made, and a reply furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that there is in existence a National Security Regulation governing the disposal of profits earned by canteens in the Middle East ? If so, what action, if any, has been taken regarding the disposal of such profits which, it is stated in some quarters, are very large? Will the Minister supply to the House detailed information concerning the trading activities of canteens in the Middle East?
– I shall obtain the information, and supply it to the House at a later stage.
– Having regard to the criticism to which the Prime Minister was subjected for consulting an outside body, as it was described, regarding the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill, what does the Prime Minister think of the reports in the press that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), consulted the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia as to how they should vote.
– The honorable member is giving information, not asking for it.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether it is a fact that a questionnaire issued under the National Security (Man Power) Regulations contains a question asking the rate of salary or wage earned by the person to whom the document is issued? Will the Minister have inquiries made, and if the facts are as has been suggested, will he inform honorable members why this information is required ?
– I have no knowledge of the questionnaire to which the honorable member refers, but I shall make inquiries.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that soldiers when discharged from the forces are issued with a suit of civilian clothing of very poor quality? Will he look into the matter with a view to having clothes of better quality issued to such men?
– The representations of the honorable member will be taken into consideration immediately.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that there has been a large increase of the number of cases of venereal diseases occurring in the community? If so, what steps is his department taking, in co-operation with the State health departments, to check the disease?
– I do not know that I should admit that there is a large increase of the number of cases, but I know that there has been an increase, and everything possible has been done, and is being done, to check it. I have conferred with the State Ministers for
Health, and there has been a conference of the Director-General of Health and the Army Medical Co-ordination Committees. Every -body is trying to do his best, by publicity and by other means, to check and prevent the spread of the disease.
– Has the Treasurer yet received the report of the AuditorGenera] on the accounts for the year ended the 30th June, 1942? If so, will he make the report available to honorable members? If the report has not yet come to hand, will he make inquiries about it, so that it may be placed in the hands of honorable members before the end of this sessional period?
– The AuditorGeneral’s report has not yet come to my office, but when it is released I shall see that it is tabled in the Parliament without delay.
– Has the Prime Minister seen last Saturday’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, particularly the article on the front page? Does he consider that the criticism offered on that page is fair? Does he believe it to be in the best interests of Australia? If not, what action does he propose to take?
– I have read the article referred to, and I have seen the cartoon which appeared in the same issue. Well, it is all a matter of opinion. I do not believe that the cartoon represents the position fairly. It contains a gross and scandalous implication against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Fadden) and myself. Any country whose leaders were capable of doing what is there charged by implication against the Leader of .the Opposition and myself must be absolutely damned.
– What does the Prime Minister propose to do about it?
– In this country there is freedom of expression, notwithstanding the frequent charges that the Government has imposed an unjustifiable censorship. The article and the cartoon published in Saturday’s issue of the Daily Telegraph are complete proof to the world that there is no interference by the Government with the free expression of opinion, or with free criticism of public administration. The cartoon and the article could not have been published in a country where there was a scintilla of interference with what is called the freedom of the press.
– Why allow such things to be published?
– I .simply say that the cartoon is a definite misstatement of the facts; it is in every way a lying accusation; it represents vilification and abuse of the lowest order. But freedom is such that a man can behave scandalously in expressing opinions and yet be permitted to go on doing it.
– That is not freedom; that is licence.
– I still stand to this fundamental principle - that the censorship should be above political interference, that it should be operated only in the interests of military security, and that the censor should not be the creature of any political party.
– Hear, hear!
– I say that definitely and decisively. I regret very much that my friend the Leader of the Opposition has had to bear all the odium of being associated with me in this matter. As Prime Minister I accept the criticism that is good and laudatory of the Government in the same spirit as that in which I accept the criticism that is often abusive. It is one of the exactions of the office of Prime Minister that a man shall be able to “ take it “. There is nothing that the Daily Telegraph can say or do about me that I care one hoot about. I have no doubt that that is also true of my friend the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is.
– I do not propose to use my authority as Prime Minister to defend myself against an accusation which is infamous.
– I sent to the Minister for Supply and Shipping a communication from the secretary of the Victorian Dairying Association, Heyfield,
Victoria, protesting against the refusal of Pool Petroleum Limited to establish a liquid fuel depot at Heyfield. In view of the fact that one of the Minister’s officers replied that the matter had been referred to Pool Petroleum Limited for further consideration and reply direct, I ask whether the Minister is satisfied to make Pool Petroleum Limited the sole arbiter in matters of this kind?
– It is unnecessary for me to restate the reasons for the establishment of Pool Petroleum Limited. I am sure that the honorable member will appreciate how difficult it would be for mc personally to examine all the incidents arising from the setting up of this organization. It is difficult to deal with line-ball cases, but some of the decisions of this organization have clearly been unsatisfactory. The matter referred to me by the honorable member1 was referred to Pool Petroleum Limited for further consideration. In the early stages the allocation of depots and agencies was determined by Pool Petroleum Limited without its being in possession of all the facts that honorable members have been able from time to time to put forward in support of the claims of certain localities. I am not prepared to leave this matter entirely in the hands of Pool Petroleum Limited if it is proved that avoidable hardship has resulted in individual cases.
– Does the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider that the Commonwealth’s stocks of petrol and other oil products at the present time are adequate to meet all war and civil needs? Have they been increased during recent months? Will the Minister give to the House an assurance that oil supplies are coming forward in adequate quantities?
– I know that the right honorable gentleman does not wish nic to give details regarding the Commonwealth’s stocks of petrol, but I assure him that the position at present is entirely satisfactory. In addition, the movements necessary to maintain that position are also satisfactory. But as the right honorable gentleman is aware, things may be good to-day, and may deteriorate ‘ considerably a month hence.
– I have received from a well-known saddle-maker in Brisbane a letter, which I do not want to read, informing me that the Minister for Transport, or some one in his office, has placed a ban on the carriage by rail of saddles from Queensland to South Australia. I ask the Minister whether the railways are so overloaded that they cannot take saddles from Brisbane to South Australia, or whether I am right when I suspect that the position of government members in Queensland is so shaky that all the saddles made by Jack Winnecke will be required by them until the next elections?
– I have no knowledge of the matter raised by the honorable member, but I shall look into it, and let him know the result of my inquiries.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that wheat-growers would be paid for wheat up to 3,000 bushels on the basis of 4s. a bushel for bagged wheat, and 3s. lOd. a bushel for bulk wheat at rail sidings, can he explain why farmers with less than 1,000 bushels and without any complications in regard to share-farming or the like are being paid only ls. lOd. a bushel?
– I cannot understand why in such circumstances such a payment is being made. Under the quota system the payment for bagged wheat is 4s. a bushel for the first 3,000 bushels. Only yesterday I conferred with the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, which is the body responsible for making the payments, and he told me that tens of thousands of payments had been made in full. In 90 per cent, of the cases, failure to make full payment was the fault of the farmers who had not replied to the questionnaire sent to them. So that there should be no delay in making funds available to them the board decided, on my instructions, to make advances of 2s. a bushel to those farmers whose quotas had not been determined. The money for the payments! has bees available since the beginning of December, and there has been no breach of faith on the part of the Government in that respect.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is correct that the Government has decided that the conduct of the new Servicemen’s Hostel in Sydney shall be under the direct control of the Army ? If the answer is in the affirmative, I ask why it has been decided to depart from the practice of allowing hostels to be conducted by the Australian Comforts Fund whose conduct of such hostels has won general commendation and approval?
– by leave - In view of the need for a hostel for personnel on leave in Sydney, various alternatives wereexamined, but finally, after the building had been inspected by myself, the General Officer Commanding New South “Wales Lines of Communication (Major-General Fewtrell) and the executive officers of the Australian Comforts Fund all agreed that the Marcus. Clark building, after remodelling, would be eminently suitable for the purpose. It was originally proposed that the Australian Comforts Fund, with the aid of grants from the Commonwealth Government and the Army Amenities Fund, should finance the cost for the establishment of the hostel and be responsible for its maintenance. On the return of the CommanderinChief, he expressed the view that the services in the field which were undertaken by the Australian Comforts Fund were of such paramount importance that they should continue unabated in making provision for services and facilities for troops in the battle zone, which could not be undertaken by the Army, and that the finances of the Australian Comforts Fund should therefore in no way be embarrassed by the undertaking to manage and equip this hostel. In this connexion, reports appeared in the press that the Lord Mayor of Sydney had stated that the Australian Comforts Fund would need £350,000 in 1943 to continue the provision of services on the same basis as in 1942, and that last year’s revenue of £220,000 would have to be substantially increased if the fund were to fulfil its obligations in this respect. Approval was given by War Cabinet to the Commander-in-Chief’s recommendations, which were fully explained to interested parties at a conference which took place in my Sydney office on the 23rd January, at which Major-General Fewtrell and a responsible officer of the Australian Comforts Fund were present. The Sydney hostel will be controlled by the Army through the Australian Army Canteens Services. I express my appreciation of the valuable services which are being rendered by the Australian Comforts Fund for the fighting forces and assure honorable members that these services are regarded as of such importance by myself and the CommanderinChief that it is essential that they shall be continued; for this reason, the decision was made to relieve the fund from any financial obligations in regard to the establishment or maintenance of a hostel in Sydney Base Area.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform me whether any vessels laden with foodstuffs and munitions for our troops in New Guinea have returned to Australia because the crews refused to take them beyond the three-mile limit?
– I have no knowledge of such an occurrence, and I doubt whether one has happened. Troubles have arisen in connexion with the movement of ships from ports, but once they commenced the voyage, they proceeded to their destination, provided they were not intercepted by the enemy. If the honorable member will supply me with the details of a specific case, I shall make inquiries.
– It should be made clear that where trouble has arisen the crews involved have been not Australian but foreign.
– That is so. Whilst the Government has experienced some trouble with foreign crews, every effort is being made to overcome the difficulty.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a statement issued by the Australian
Journalists Association (N.S.W. District) alleging that Mr. Leslie Haylen, news editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly, had submitted his name for Labour pre-selection for a seat in the Parliament of the Commonwealth and had been told by his employers to withdraw his candidature or forfeit his job as news editor? The statement adds that Mr. Haylen was also directed to accept an undefined position on the Daily Telegraph. Although possessing a lucrative contract, Mr. Haylen refused to obey these demands and was dismissed. If these are facts, and if it is found that the law protects the employee from victimization for industrial activity, but gives no protection against victimization for political activity, will the Prime Minister ensure that such protection is given to all persons who may be controlled by employers like Mr. R. A. G. Henderson, chairman of the Australian Newspaper Proprietors Association, who issued the instruction : “ No employee shall take part in any public activity without previous approval of the proprietors “ ?
– I have received a letter from the Australian Journalists Association, and a letter from the Sydney Trades and Labour Council setting out their versions of the incident, and they accord broadly with the facts submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne. I have also received a rejoinder from the proprietors of Consolidated Press Limited. After having carefully examined the matter, I see no reason why, as Prime Minister, I should intervene. If a breach of contract has been committed, the injured party is at liberty to take action to secure redress. Although I have examined the matter not only as Prime Minister, but also as a member of the Australian Journalists Association, I can see no justification for my intervention.
– Has the Minister for the Army read in the latest issue of Smith’s Weekly evidence in support of an early report that two Japanese had been buried in the Australian Imperial Force portion of a Brisbane cemetery?
Will the Minister investigate this statement immediately and inform the House of the facts?
– I have not seen the report, but 1 shall order an immediate investigation.
– Is the Minister for Munitions aware of the serious invasion of rabbits in Western Australia? Does he realize that flax production in that State is being menaced by the pest and that not half the stock in the State can be fattened which otherwise would be fattened? Does the honorable gentleman appreciate that this invasion is probably next in seriousness to an invasion by the Japanese, and that it has occurred through the shortage of man-power and the impossibility of obtaining adequate supplies of wire netting and the necessary poisons to exterminate the rabbits? In submitting that this is a matter of national importance, I ask the Minister whether he will take steps to try to make available adequate supplies of wire netting and poison to cope with the pest?
– I am aware that rabbits are not the only pest with which we have to contend. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), as well as the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), have previously communicated with me on this subject. I assure him and honorable members generally that everything possible is being done to meet the unfortunate circumstances that have been mentioned. No restriction whatever is placed, to-day, upon the supply of strychnine for use as rabbit poison.
– The Minister has been misinformed.
– I obtained this information only last week from the Director of Material Supplies.
– Then that gentleman also must have been misinformed.
– If the honorable member will make a request to the proper authorities for the supplies which he requires I am sure that he will have no difficulty in obtaining them.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet received the report of the committee appointed some time ago to report upon the tick eradication regulations in New South Wales? If so, is he able to say when it will be made available to honorable members?
– The report has just reached me. I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request that it be made available at the earliest possible moment.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping make a statement to the House concerning the present position and future prospects in regard to rubber supplies?
– The rubber position has to be watched very closely. It is well known to honor.ab.le members that 90 per cent, of the available sources of raw rubber are now in enemy hands. That, in itself, is sufficient indication of the necessity for us to .conserve our stocks as much as possible. ‘Certain restrictions have been imposed upon the use of rubber, and I warn honorable members that other restrictions will have to be imposed soon. We are doing everything possible to make the best use of the supplies now in our possession. We are also obtaining all available information about future supplies and the development of synthetic rubber in other countries. We have no rubber to spare and I assure honorable members that the position is being watched closely.
Sergeant Pilot K. M. Gregor - Physical Drill of Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force
– Will the Minister for Air inform me whether .Sergeant Pilot Kenneth Munro Gregor, of Tweed Heads, New South Wales, who entered the Royal Australian Air Force immediately on leaving high school, was sentenced by court martial at Narrandera to twelve months’ imprisonment following an accident with an aircraft? Is the lad serving the sentence in a civil gaol in association with civil offenders? When the lad was transported from Goulburn Gaol to Long Bay Gaol, was he chained to two civil offenders? If so, will the Minister take action, in conjunction with the Minister for the Army, for the purpose of ensuring that no young member of the forces shall in future be subjected to this indignity and humiliation, and be compelled to serve a sentence in surroundings that may permanently injure his character?
– I fully explained the circumstances of this case in the House some days ago. It is true that Sergeant Pilot Gregor was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment as the result of what the honorable member described as an accident, in which Leading Aircraftman Ryan was killed, and seven other persons, including Gregor, were injured. After trial by court martial Gregor was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment. As is the practice in both the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force, a person who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding six months is confined in a civil gaol, if the district has no special place of detention. I am gratified to be able to say that the number of these serious cases does not warrant the erection of a special detention camp. I understand that the lad has lodged an appeal against his sentence and in consequence the matter is sub judice. If I were to comment on the evidence or the sentence, I might prejudice the case. I have already directed my department to investigate the possibility of establishing a special detention camp for service offenders. Regarding the allegation that Gregor was chained to two civilian offenders when being transferred from Goulburn Gaol to Long Bay Gaol, I shall have inquiries made. It is undesirable that such things should happen, hut the honorable member will understand that a Minister does not usually become aware of them, unless his attention is directed to a particular incident. I consider that service offenders should not be treated as criminals; but the honorable member will recognize that -when .things referred to as “ accidents “ which may involve a charge of manslaughter occur, action has to be taken to prevent their incurrence. These young men are not treated as criminals, if no criminal intent or negligence has been shown. Inquiries are now being made to ascertain whether a detention camp should be established for future cases of the kind.
– Will the Minister for Air inform me whether the Air Board has issued instructions that members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force shall do one hour of physical drill each day? Is it a fact that at Pott’s Point head-quarters, Sydney, girls who had just completed a strenuous day’s work were called upon to do such physical drill, and that 23 of them who declined to do it were sentenced to detention at Richmond for periods of from 14 to 28 days?
– I have not heard of such an instruction by the Air Board, though it is possible that an officer may have issued an instruction to that effect. I have no knowledge of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall make inquiries into the matter and give him a reply as early as possible.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave bc given to bring in a bill tor an act to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1942.
Motion (by Mr. Frost) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1941, and for other purposes.
Debate resumed from the 5th February(vide page 379), on motion by Mr. Curtin -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Archie Cameron had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That.” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that any member of the Citizen Military Forces may he required to serve anywhere beyond the limits of Australia.”
.- The first step towards the introduction of this measure was taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the 18th November last when he moved the following motion at a special conference of the Australian Labour party held at Melbourne : -
That, having regard to the paramount necessity of Australia’s defence, the Government be authorized to add to the definition of the territories to which the Defence Act extends the following words: - “and such other territories in the South-west Pacific Area as the Governor-General proclaims as being territories associated with the defence of Australia.”
Consideration of the matter was adjourned by that conference, but the motion was agreed to at a conference held early last month. The SouthWestern Pacific Zone was not defined by the right honorable gentleman in his motion, but it was well understood to be the area under the command of General Douglas MacArthur-. I call the attention of honorable members to the following description of the area which was published in the American magazine Fortune last month -
To define the areas under the command of General MacArthur and of Admiral Nimitz requires the precision of a surveyor and the ability of a navigator. The actual line of division reads like the sailing directions for a tortuous channel - north along the160th meridian to the equator, thence west to 130° E longitude, thence north to 20°, thence west to the Indo-China coast and south along- the east coast of Asia to 110° east longitude and even this line had to be shifted to the extent of two degrees of longitude since it split Guadalcanal in two.
Obviously that was not a final definition of the area, for it could be varied from time to time by the American Army authorities in consultation with the Australian army authorities. It is obvious that this bill does not exhaust the authority given to the Prime Minister by the Australian Labour party.. The limits of that authority are significant, because the Prime Minister can call upon the members of that party to support a measure going beyond the limits set by the present bill and extending to the limits of the South-West Pacific Area, however that may be defined from time to time. The zone within which the provisions of this legislation will operate corresponds to the South-West Pacific Area, with the exception of that part of it which is north of the Equator - the Philippines, the Chinese island of Hainan, and those portions of Borneo, the Celebes, and Halmaheira, or Jilolo which are above the Equator. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) said that the effect of the bill was that Citizen Military Forces could not be compelled to serve in any island through which the Equator ran, because it would be ridiculous to send them up to the Equator but not beyond it. I do not agree with that. I believe it to be the intention of the bill that such a ridiculous consequence shall arise, and that when it does a further response will be made to public pressure. When one looks at the map which is described in the bill, one sees that there has been excluded not only a part of Java, but also a part of Borneo and the Celebes, and the main part of Halmaheira. It has been pointed out that under the present plan of the Government men may be sent to Dutch South Borneo, but not to Dutch North Borneo or British North Borneo. There i3 a more ridiculous consequence: They may be sent under compulsion to Dutch West Borneo, yet- not to Pontianak, the capital of it! Their commander may be told that he must not take them to the principal town and the principal port. They may be sent to the centre and the south of the Celebes, but they cannot be sent to the north, although in the north there are the second, third, fourth and fifth towns and the principal ports. When we come to the island of Halmaheira, or Jilolo we find that only in a tiny part in the south can men be compelled to serve. Obviously, when men reach the Equator, the Government will fulfil the mandate given to it by the party. Therefore, this is only a preliminary step towards that end. The Prime Minister can bind all the members of the party to observe that authority.
– The party may change its mind.
– Of course, other considerations may arise. State conferences, and a federal conference of the party, are to be held this year. There is to be a State conference in Victoria and another in New South Wales, and a federal conference in July. The Government may have hoped to placate its supporters in those States by bringing in a bill which does not exercise completely the authority given to the Prime Minister by the party. Whether that be so or not, I am satisfied that before long the Government will exhaust the whole of the mandate given to it by the party, and will proceed beyond the boundaries now fixed. For this reason, the Opposition has shown great wisdom in having intimated that it does not intend to oppose the bill; because everything will fall into its lap. The bill makes it impossible to resist a further extension to the whole of the South- West Pacific Area; and such an extension will render it impossible to resist a further one to include the whole of the Indo-Pacific area. Machiavelli advised Caesar Borgia, in attempting to make himself master of Italy, to, take it city by. city, as a man eats an artichoke - leaf by leaf. The Government is approaching this proposal in that way; not taking it in one fell swoop, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) or the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has proposed, but gradually, taking each province city by city. When the bill has been passed, the last real basis for the opposition to conscription in Australia for overseas service will have disappeared. I regard this as the last chance we shall have to defend the Australian tradition against conscription for overseas service. It is not merely an Australian, but also a British tradition. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has said that that tradition began with Cromwell. It began much earlier than Cromwell. Cromwell’s new model army was volunteer. He said that he would raise an army consisting of men who knew what they were fighting for and who loved what they knew. The English tradition goes back to the beginning of our history. English people have always recognized a distinction between service in one’s country for the defence of that country, and service abroad. They have always recognized that there ought properly to be compulsion for service at home, but not compulsion for service abroad. English armies which went to France were not raised by compulsion. The victors of Cressy, Poitiers and Agincourt were volunteers. What a surprise it is to find that, money for money, they were paid much better than our soldiers are being paid to-day, and equally as well as workers of the same class who remained at home in England ! But for the defence of England, men were raised by compulsion, first by a compulsory levy, and later by ballot. That system operated until 1832, in which year the ballot was merely suspended, not abolished. That tradition, and the common law which sprang from it, were carried abroad by English people wherever they went. We in Australia inherited it. It was inherited also in Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. In Australia, the first struggle between compulsion for home defence and compulsion for service abroad took place when the Defence Bill of 1901 was introduced. Upon examination, it was found to contain a clause, carefully wrapped up in appropriate language, by means of which Australian Citizen Forces might ‘be compelled to serve wherever the Government might care to send them. Mr. Higgins, then member for Northern Melbourne, and later Mr. Justice Higgins, pointed this out. The whole House rose against the proposal ; not merely the sixteen Labour members, but also those who supported the parties of Sir Edmund Barton and Sir George Reid. The result was that the Government dropped the measure. In 1903, a bill was introduced which became the Defence Act 1903. It contained the provision that men might be required to serve for the defence of Australia; but by section 49 the act provided that, without his consent, no member of the Citizen Military Forces, whether a militiaman or a volunteer, might be sent out of Australia and beyond the territories of the Commonwealth unless he had specifically agreed so to serve. That principle was twice reaffirmed by the people at referendums held in 191’6. It is interesting to recall that, according to the weight of evidence, not only civilians in Australia, but also the fighting men overseas, who had an opportunity to vote, declared themselves in that way.
I made a speech on the 27th November, 1941, in which I dealt with that, and in which I gave the various authorities. I propose to add to those authorities the very definite opinion of Mr. Donald MacKinnon, who was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to the position of Director of Recruiting in Australia. He made his report in 1918, and it contains the following passage: -
It is realized that, as the commissioned officer class and probably the non-commissioned officer class may be assumed to have voted almost unanimously in favour of conscription, a large majority of the rank and file must have turned it down.
That is a reference to the second referendum which was taken in 1918. This tradition, like all other traditions of liberty, has its basic principle. I am not wedded to it merely because it is a tradi- “ tion, but when I find a tradition in favour of liberty, I am firmly of opinion that it is based on human nature, on human reason, and on human instinct. I believe that this tradition is so based - that it is based on the natural repugnance of men to the taking of human life; not the unwillingness of a man to give his life, but his unwillingness to take human life. There is no doubt that the taking of human life is unnatural. Some people think that it is wrong to take human life in any circumstances - that even the murderer should not be executed. That is the strongest argument against capital punishment. But a man may have to choose between the alternative of taking another man’s life and of not .merely surrendering his own life, but also ceasing to protect those who have a claim upon him for protection. That is why there is a distinction between taking up arms for the defence of one’s home and kindred and going abroad to foreign lands to fight. Both human reason and instinct call upon men to defend their homes, their parents, their wives and their children. Even the civilian population of a country will rise in defence of those things. In the 19th century, there was developed the idea of the levee en masse. Before that, the accepted principle was that fighting should be left to the professional soldier, and that the civilian population should take no part in the fighting, but should wait to see who won.
However, by the doctrine of levee en masse, untrained and unorganized citizens may rise to repel an invader and, so long as they carry arms openly and themselves obey the rules of war, they are entitled to be treated as combatants. From that it is not a great step to organization of defence which means compulsion. My only objection to compulsion for horne defence is the difficulty of providing for the small minority who believe that it is wrong to resist evil with evil, and to take life in any circumstances. My experience is that it is almost impossible to persuade the nation to make reasonable provision for such people. However, up to that point, every body accepts the position that citizens may be required to serve for the defence of their own country, but when it comes to service abroad, different considerations arise. Men volunteer for service abroad, and in doing so they know that they must submit their will to that of their commanders. They may have to do all sorts of things that they never contemplated. For instance, it is possible that a man i rving in the South-Western Pacific Zone may have to use his arms not only against Japanese soldiers, or even civilians, but also against the native populations of some of the islands. We know that the native populations on the islands adjoining Asia, as well as of the Continent, have a natural reluctance to be embroiled in a war between the master nations. We know that the Japanese have succeeded in conciliating the native people in some of the islands, and it is possible that there may be fighting between our forces and some of those native peoples. If a man volunteers to fight abroad, he must be prepared to do what he is told, but a man who believes that it is wrong to fight against civilians or against natives should not be required to do so. That is my view, and even if that were the only objection I had to conscription, I should regard it as sufficient.
It is said that, whatever may be the conscientious feelings of a man, they ought to be overruled hy his own sense of duty. Well, what is our duty, and to whom do we owe it ? We are told that we owe a duty to the state. I do not admit the existence of any duty to the state that should compel persons to do things that they believe to be morally wrong, I do not believe in the absolutist oi’ totalitarian state. I do not believe men exist for the welfare of the state; I believe that the state exists for the welfare of men - that the happiness and selfrealization of its citizens is the purpose for which the state exists. I believe that the doctrine which is being preached in connexion with this issue by some honorable members is as totalitarian as that of the nations to which we are opposed. We are told that we have a duty ‘to the men held by the enemy as prisoners of war. The men who went overseas, and who are now prisoners of war, went as volunteers from a nation which told them definitely that they would not be reinforced by compulsion. It is said that we have a duty to Russia. I cannot see where our duty to Russia lies, so far as this issue is concerned. We know that Russia is not a party to the war with Japan. On the 13th April of last year, Russia made a pact with the Government of Japan.
– Russia also made one with Germany.
– And Russia kept the pact with Germany, as I believe Russia will keep the pact with Japan. It is provided in this pact that for five years Japan and Russia shall remain at peace with each other. If one is attacked, the other may remain neutral throughout the conflict. If the People’s Republic of Mongolia, Russia’s client state, be attacked, Japan will remain neutral and respect Russia’s rights; if the Japanese Empire in Manchuria or Manchukuo bp attacked, Russia will respect the rights of Japan. It is also provided that the treaty shall remain in force for five years, or until put an end to. That is what has prevented the use of bases, in Siberia for an attack against Japan. We owe no duty to Russia. I am one of those who value greatly what Russia has done, but Russia has only defended itself. Honorable members talk about fighting side by side with Russian conscripts, but Russia has raised no soldiers for service outside Russia.
– What about those who fought in Finland?
– I say that Russia has raised no conscript armies for service outside Russia in this war. Every body knows that Russia abstained from taking part in the war until its own frontiers were crossed. Then we are told that we owe a debt to America. I have a great respect for the American nation and people, and I am not foolish enough to take the clatter of the American newspapers as being the expression of the opinion of the American people. I am no more satisfied to do that than 1 am to take what the Australian newspapers say as being what the Australian people think. I have lived long enough to know that there is no justification for the belief that the press reflects the opinion of the people. We owe no debt that I can realize to America. As a matter of fact, our greatest danger comes from the fact that Australia is the base for American offensive operations against Japan. If it were not for the fact that Australia is the base from which America will strike at Japan, Japan would be consolidating the empire it has acquired. It has to be ready to attack Australia because Australian men and materials may be sent out against it. I have every sympathy for the American mother who says to President Roosevelt, “ After all your oft-repeated promises not to send my son abroad to fight, you have sent him”. I have every sympathy for her; but I do not concede -that she has -any right to demand that Australian men shall be conscripted. Australia is in great danger because America chose to fight Japan from Australia rather than from America. There is no doubt that, had America chosen to meet Japan close to home rather than from and near Australia, American homes would be in far greater danger than they are to-day.
Let me now refer to the Canadian position. At a referendum the people of Canada released the Government from its obligation not to send men to serve overseas, and the law was amended to enable conscripted troops to be sent overseas. Honorable members who have the July issue of the Journal of ihe Parliaments of the Empire can read the substance of the debate on that legislation. The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr.
Mackenzie King, said that the Government was desirous of having the power immediately “ to move some of the men who had been called up and trained under the National Resources Mobilization Act, to Newfoundland and possibly other islands in the western hemisphere, and to territories adjacent to Canada, including the territory of the United States “. Not a word of these men being used against Japan, and Canada has a coastline upon the Pacific of 600 miles !
– Canada used men against Japan at Hong Kong.
– Yes, but volunteers, not conscripts. Mr. Mackenzie King has said that Canada does not propose to conscript any men for service against Japan. It is quite clear that one of the last things contemplated by the Canadian Government is that men shall be conscripted for use against Japan. On the Pacific side of Canada there is the town of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, and there is one of Canada’s best harbours; but Canada does not propose to. use conscripts against Japan. Only the Australian people are to be asked to bear the brunt of the fight against J apan. Now, we are. told that this country is in danger because of the offensive against Japan. Everybody, the Prime Minister himself, has told us that. This offensive is more in the interests of the United States of America and the Netherlands than of Australia. I now quote some remarks made by the Prime Minister a fortnight ago -
There was no unused pool of man-power now available to the Government or to any government that could be substituted for it.
He said that we had withdrawn half a million men from, civil industry, and that, he declared, was the final attack upon the unused resources of this country. What does that mean? It means that we have come to the end of our resources, that we cannot get any more men. And what does that mean? It means that the men in Australia now mobilized for the defence of Australia against invasion will have to be withdrawn if men are to be sent in large numbers to take the offensive. If increased numbers of men are to be sent against Japan the defence force of Australia will have to be depleted. The Prime Minister also said -
Then there is the physical difficulty that the man-power of this country is spread over a vast continent, and that the whole of this continent must be held. Whilst we have relatively large forces, having regard to our population, we have relatively small forces having regard to the length of coastline which we have to defend, and to the territory inside that coastline which we have to seek to keep inviolate.
All those long words simply mean this: We have a very great task to defend Australia and very disproportionate forces with which to do it, and it is proposed that they shall ‘be diminished by sending large numbers of men from Australia to attack Japan. Section 49 of the Defence Act is the only provision which guarantees that there shall be adequate forces within Australia to defend Australia. It may be impossible to protect our cities from attack from the air, but with our forces it should not be impossible to prevent the enemy from landing. For the reasons that I have given now -and for other reasons which I have given on other occasions and which I shall not repeat, I hope that this bill will not be passed.
.- An attempt is being made from two sides to destroy this bill. There are those who want nothing but conscription in its widest sense, and those who do not want conscription at all. They are strange bedfellows. The advocates on both sides are idealists and they may have the purest of motives for their actions. Their academic approach to this subject may be admired, but I venture to say that a close consideration of the military and political circumstances of Australia will show that both sides may he the unwitting destroyers of the flower of Australia’s youth. Both courses suggested - the course of enlarging this bill, which would force an election, and the course suggested by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) of holding a referendum - would mean delay for several months before the question- was decided. In fact the question might not be decided at all, because there is a possibility that an election or a referendum would be equally indecisive. Our soldiers in New Guinea, Timor and other islands in the north need reinforcements in the shortest possible ! time. Our troops require reinforcements most urgently because the casualty rate, as a result of tropical diseases, is appalling, being not lower than 300 per cent, a year. In other words, we require four fit, fully-trained men for the purpose of keeping one fit man in the field. In those circumstances, any delay in reinforcing our troops may easily prove fatal to the continued progress that they are making against the enemy. If we, lose ground now, innumerable lives may be lost before we regain the foothold that we have now won against the Japanese.
I have a personal interest in this matter because my son is fighting in New Guinea. Within the last fortnight, I saw in the press a picture of him. He was standing in a trench, up to his thighs in water. He was one of twenty men who tunnelled for a distance of 50 yards in eight days under the Japanese lines in order to reach their comrades. Since he returned from the Middle East, he has been fighting for four or five months in New Guinea. At present, he is in hospital suffering from malaria. When he recovers, he will return to the front line, because we lack sufficient men to reinforce the troops. Immediately the sick recover, they are sent back into action, and all because we haggle in this chamber about the zone in which they shall fight. Medical experience agrees that troops should not be retained for more than five months in malaria-infested areas. The original marines who gained a foothold on Guadalcanal have been relieved, as they were practically 100 per cent, malaria infected. They must be given an opportunity to recover from that trying climate. If troops are sent in quick succession more than twice to the tropics where malaria is endemic, they will almost certainly contract blackwater fever, which is usually fatal. The only solution is to provide a continual stream of new men to replace our troops in New Guinea.
I support the bill, because it will permit the reinforcement of our troops in their immediate campaign against the Japanese, in which they are performing so magnificently. I agree with the view that the “ bottle of conscription “ contains at present only one dose, and that it should be full, but the one dose is imperative immediately. If this measure of conscription be accepted, I have not the slightest doubt that we shall, at a later date, be able to administer further doses until the Government is empowered to despatch all or any of our troops even to the shores of Japan itself. If doctors were to argue abstract questions when they. had immediate though imperfect means of curing patients, the death rate would be considerably higher than it is at the present time. We must approach this problem in a practical manner. I am confident that this hill is only the forerunner of legislation to confer on the Government considerably wider powers, which will permit it to send our troops beyond the present proposed zone in the Southwest Pacific A study of the changing attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and that of the Labour party in the last twelve months confirms this belief.
It is no disgrace if a man adapts his views to the demands of rapidly changing conditions. If the mind of the Prime Minister were not dynamic, but static, he would be incapable of steering the country through the perils of the present maelstrom. After having been bitterly opposed for 25 years to conscription for overseas service, and standing simply for the defence of the mainland of Australia, the Labour party has, within the last twelve months, become offensive-minded rather than defensiveminded, not only in words, hut also in deeds. I shall examine events that have occurred during the last twelve years for the purpose of showing how completely the views of the Labour party have changed. Twelve years ago, the Prime Minister supported a government which abolished compulsory military training, closed the military college at Duntroon, and reduced by one-half the personnel required to man our cruisers. In 1934, the policy speech of the Labour party contained no reference to defence. Subsequently, in 1937, the policy included provision for the improvement of our air defence, but emphasis was laid on aircraft not as an offensive but as a defensive weapon. Two years ago, the Labour party objected to the conscription of the Citizen Military Forces to defend even the territories of the Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite opposed the despatch of the Australian Imperial Force to theatres of war overseas; in fact, Mr. Curtin moved in that direction in the House, and the Labour Government, upon taking office, recalled a substantial body of the Australian Imperial Force. After having the responsibility of governing the Commonwealth for twelve months, the Prime Minister now recognizes that the safety of the nation must take precedence of personal prejudice and long-held conviction. For 25 years the right honorable gentleman was a leading anti-conscriptionist. During the last war he was prepared to go to any length to fight conscription, which he regarded as wrong. But, after twelve months of responsibility as Prime Minister of this country, he made up his mind to go back to Fremantle and review, quietly, every aspect of this question in order to determine the right thing to do to ensure that we should win the war. As the result of his cogitations, he concluded that conscription for overseas was inevitable and necessary for Australia. He then boldly submitted that policy to the Labour party with the result that, for the first time in our history, this Parliament is being asked to give legislative approval to conscription for overseas service. The honorable gentleman is to be admired, not condemned, for what he has done.
In this Parliament we are, at this moment, witnessing the bringing of two great personal tragedies into the public light. Many of us have private personal tragedies to face in this connexion, but now two personal tragedies are being brought into the open. The Prime Minister, an avowed anti.conscriptionist, and probably still, in his innermost heart, an anticonscriptionist, has concluded that, in the interests of national security, and for the safety of the men, women and children of Australia, his own innermost feelings must be overridden. In consequence, he has introduced this bill. Twenty-five years ago the present right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was prepared to gamble his whole political career on the submission to the people of a referendum for conscription for overseas service. That right honorable gentleman has now intimated that, whilst he is still in favour of complete conscription, he is prepared to vote for this bill even though it does not go nearly so far as he desires. Doubtless it seems to these two men that they must both take an intermediate course in the interests of the nation. “We are, therefore, looking upon two personal tragedies the like of which have not, probably, occurred before in Australian political history. Both of these right honorable gentlemen have decided that they must put aside their own personal prejudices and sentiments and join forces in a move which they believe will serve the best interests of the ‘ country at this period. It is of first importance that men fighting in certain areas overseas shall be reinforced immediately if we are to win the war and even hold what we have won back.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) is in much the same position as the Prime Minister. He said to us, in effect, last Friday, “ I am prepared to go from step to step, as may become necessary. I am prepared to put on one side the defensiveminded strategy which has marked the policy of the Labour party for many years, and I am prepared to take the offensive-minded attitude”. It seems to me, therefore, that we are now facing a period of offensive strategy. The Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and certain other of their ministerial colleagues who hold similar views, have really come over to our side and agree that offensive strategy is imperative. They have not changed their jerseys, but they will do so before this .business is finished! In a world cataclysm such as we face today, a man is not disgraced -by changing his views. In fact, to do so with a strong heart, and to sink earlier personal prejudices and feelings, is to give proof of courage. We have to be dynamic these days; we cannot remain static. A Minister who is static and is thinking in pre-war terms, as are some honorable gentlemen sitting on the treasury bench, are not fit to be entrusted . with the administration of big departments in periods of cataclysmic change. Tr seems to me that, as the Government, has submitted to Parliament a bill which provided that our militiamen shall serve in any area in the terms set out in this bill, and has also introduced, by regulation, within the last fortnight, a system of industrial conscription which provides that men and women shall work wherever they are most needed to work, it must take the corollary step of forming an all-party government. It is essential, in these circumstances, that every person in the community shall be assured, within himself, that he will receive fair treatment and evenhanded justice. For this reason I believe that the Government will be absolutely forced, before very long, to consent to the placing on the treasury bench of an all-party administration, to which all sections of the people can look with confidence, and from which they can be assured of equitable treatment - in effect, a national court of appeal.
The mind of the Prime Minister has been dynamic in this defence matter. I have pointed out that, in the last twelve months in particular, he has gradually changed his outlook. He will have to move again with the times in order to face successfully the larger issues that are ahead of us. As the right honorable gentleman has seen the necessity to free himself from his anchorages of former days, and as he has been prepared to subordinate his personal views to the interests of the nation in relation to conscription, I believe that sooner or later he will have to subordinate his party political views to the interests of the nation as a whole, and consider afresh the wisdom of taking steps to place an all-party government on the treasury bench.
I shall support the bill and I hope that the Prime Minister will stand to it. If he does not go farther and put the nation before party interest, he might as well accept the foreshadowed amendment of the honorable member for Bourke to submit the whole question to a referendum of the people, and. in that way, save his face and prevent dissension in the Labour party. I urge the right honorable gentleman to stand by the bill, though I realize that by doing so he will be forced to go farther. This is simply a beginning. A very much greater effort will be required before we are through. There is no doubt whatever that, during the last war, Australia, under the leadership of the present right honorable member for North Sydney, became the pride of the Empire and the admiration of the whole world; but unless we are prepared to run the risk of becoming what I shall call the cow’s tail in the procession of Empire during this war, we must be now prepared to stand up to our full responsibilities. I regard this bill, and the steps that have been taken to introduce industrial conscription in this country, as only the first steps in a new effort to gear the whole nation to a greater war effort.
The highest achievement of democracy is to dedicate the life and labour of the community as a whole and as individuals to common service. The wholesale dedication of democracy by its parliamentary representatives should, lead the people to the fullest national unity. We should take all possible steps to ensure unity of control in the highest aspects of national life, and particularly in government. The importance of the two measures to which I have already referred cannot be overestimated because, for the first time, they make a unified national war effort possible. Hitherto we have been divided on vital war principles, but now be are united. We are acting on principles that are now common to all the parties in this Parliament. I therefore submit that as a. logical consequence the control of the nation at the top should be unified.
I prophesy two new inevitable developments. We must recognize the necessity for an extension of united national thinking io the highest branches of government, and we must also show general appreciation of the fact that the real frontiers of this country to be defended are the shores, factories and shipyards of Japan. We must get at the heart of our foe. In the past, differences in principle have prevented a real coalescence of thought and action in this Parliament, but now there is no difference in principle. The only difference remaining to-day is one of degree. Having conceded that our men may fight as far from home as the- Equator it is only a question of degree for us to go further and say, for example, that they may fight anywhere up to the Tropic of Cancer. The application of the existing provisions of the Defence Act relating to universal liability for compulsory military service in the defence of Australia, not merely to Australia itself, but «also to every other part of the world, will * become a permanent feature of our military machinery. Pressure of circumstances will very soon force a merger of the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Forces. We are in the position of a man who says to a doctor, “ I want my myopia corrected ; I must be able to see to a distance of 20 or 30 feet”. He is given a pair of long-distance glasses, which enable him to see not merely 20 or 30 feet distant, hut also the horizon miles away. When the spectacles given by this bill are worn by members of the Citizen Military Forces, they will see not merely the Equator, not one-half of the Solomons or Java, but also the shores, the factories, and the shipyards of Japan, upon which they will visit destruction. Inevitably, the day of realism ‘of not continuing to use the Australian Imperial Force as the spearhead of every offensive operation until finally every member of it has been killed, but of having a united army to fight for Australia wherever it may be necessary, will soon overcome the night of confusion that now exists. I am not prepared to sacrifice our men merely for a theory. If there is only one dose of conscription in the bottle, and it will save their lives, give it to them ; it will carry them on until the bottle can be replenished. If there are not the 10 grains of strychnine which are necessary to deal with a case throughout, but one dose consisting of one-twentieth of a grain, give the patient that and thereby keep him alive. We have to take things as they are. I am not prepared to wait for three, four or five months on the chance of getting something more than is offered. I have always said that the men who have been fighting should be relieved. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), in an admirable speech last Friday, urged that airmen and military men engaged in operations abroad should be brought back to Australia. It will be remembered that in the last war the original contingent was brought back to Australia after it had been absent for four years. The fighting in that war, although terribly bloody, was of quite a different character, in its effect upon health, from that of the present war. Many of our men who have been on active service for three years must he given a period of rest.
– That is what I said.
– That is the point which the honorable member made, and I am 100 per cent, with him. Our object can be achieved only by taking immediately what is offered. Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we must wait until we can take all the nuts out of the jar before we do anything our men will not be given immediate rest. After the passage of this bill, members of the Citizen Military Forces will not be content to regard themselves merely as men who are to garrison the reconquered territories of which the Prime Minister spoke the other day. If we continue to reconquer territories, obviously our garrisons will soon be beyond the limits that have now been set. Inevitably, this bill, having been brought down, will be altered very speedily; and the principle having been accepted, its extension will be much easier than its acceptance. My experience of Parliament has taught me to get some immediate results when we can. “We have an extraordinarily favorable opportunity for a review of the whole of our attitude now that the basis of our military service has been revolutionized. This measure removes the principal difference that previously existed between the parties in this Parliament. When one examines the mental attitude and outlook of practically all members, one finds that some members of different parties are often, closer to each other than they are to other members of their own parties. Take butter, for example. I am quite sure that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is much more inclined to concede the additional price of 4d. per lb. recommended by the special committee - which I support 100 per cent. - than would be the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), who is on the “seven-eighths” of a penny basis. Take the matter of service pensions. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Frost) must have read in the newspapers the names of members of all parties who have been jostling each other in their endeavour to make quite certain that he will do more than he has expressed himself as being agreeable to do. Take the matter of child endowment, introduced by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). The present Prime Minister said at the time that it was the most notable social reform that had been made in the history of this Parliament. In the matter of industrial conciliation, I have no doubt that there are on this side members who are closer to. some honorable members opposite than those honorable members could possibly be to other members of their own party. These illustrations could be multiplied one thousandfold. In these times of crisis, surely all parties can work together in a government in order to solve the problems with which we are confronted.
As soon as the principle of conscription for military service overseas has been accepted, the manpower problems of our whole Australian economy will have to be reviewed. At the outbreak of the war, a voluntary system operated. Men rushed into the Army, into munitions work, and various other avenues in which they considered they could do most good. There was no military or industrial conscription. Having decided that there shall be both, we must overhaul the whole position. Munitions establishments must be combed, in order to see whether they have in them men who should be engaged on the land or in the fighting forces. The Australian Imperial Force should be combed in order to ascertain whether some men who have had a lengthy period of active service would not be better employed in the interests of the nation in munitions factories or on the land. By such means, we may achieve a proper distribution of labour and the most efficient results. Surely such a task needs to be handled by a government consisting of every section in this Parliament! Each section possesses some special knowledge. That is one of the reasons for the existence of parties; they represent special interests which possess specialized knowledge of certain avenues of employment and industry. The only way in which we can make certain of obtaining the best results is by having all interests represented in the government. There is plenty of work to be done, especially if woman-power is to be mobilized in accordance with a policy of universal industrial conscription under which all will be told exactly where and under what conditions they are to work. Surely this has to be done in order that, at the earliest moment, the prestige of Australia may be restored to the position that it should occupy, and we may take the place which we ought to hold in the strategy of this war, and especially in the discussions of peace problems, which must he considered prior to the end of the war. In existing circumstances, with a half-hearted response to the demands that are made upon us, we cannot inspire the goodwill or the respect in which we would be held if we were playing an all-in hand. One of the problems following the peace will be to make certain that the islands in proximity to Australia shall not be left in the control of potential enemies. What is to be our attitude in respect of the food problem? Contrast the position with which we shall be faced at the end of this war with that which confronted the world at the end of the last war. Although Germany had been victorious for four years, only a small portion of France had been overrun, Holland and Denmark were continuing their ordinary economies, selling produce alike to England and Germany; Scandinavia and a great part of Russia were intact; Spain and Portugal were prosperous. There was nothing comparable with the present position in the Far East, which had not been invaded. With our huge reserves of food and raw materials, we shall have to assist to relieve destitution and famine among 200,000,000 people more than after the last war. That seems to me an even more colossal task than the conduct of the war itself. Many men have been trained specially to deal with military problems; not so many are qualified and specially trained to deal with food and trading problems on an international basis. Therefore, the time is long overdue when the Government should include men representative of every section of the community, so that they may bring their united talents to the solution of these problems. The second thing necessary to enable us to win back our national prestige is to make an end of carping criticism of the kind that we heard from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) on Friday last. I cannot imagine anything that could do Australia more harm than detraction of that kind. For a man to make such a speech he must be blind in both eyes and have lost his sense of hearing as well. He suggested that the Labour Government, which has been in office for only a little over a year, was responsible for practically the whole of Australia’s war effort, that it had achieved all manner of things simply by waving a wand, as it were. The truth is that what is being achieved to-day is the fruit of five or six years of careful planning by previous governments. Hardly o.ne item of war production is being turned out at the present time for which the present. Government can claim the undivided credit because of the time factor. I am not blaming the present Government for this; it has not had sufficient time. Let me cite some of the things which had already been achieved at the time when the present Government took office. In October, 1941, the production of munitions was eighteen times greater than in 1938-39, and everything was in train to raise that production to 40 times as great by 1941-42. The number of employees in government munitions factories had increased from 12,000 in August, 1939, to 58,000 in July, 1941, and plans had been laid for increasing the number to 170,000 by June, 1942. No fewer than 100 munitions annexes had been built, and private firms had been switched over to war production. New industries had been established to produce textiles, cables, tool steel, alloy bearings, chemicals, parachutes, motors and spare parts and bodies, guns, explosives, small arms, precision instruments, fighting vehicles, tanks, wireless sets and aeroplanes. Up to September, 1941, Australian factories had produced over £10,000,000 worth of aeroplanes, and it was expected that in 1941-42 the production of aeroplanes would be increased to a value of £20,000,000, and would include the manufacture of bombers. By September, 1941, we had already produced 1,000 aeroplanes, and it was expected that an additional 500 would be produced by January, 1942. Shipping yards around the coast had turned out quite a number of small naval vessels, of the kind which have proved most effective in combating the submarine menace. Some of those vessels have served in waters far beyond Australia, and have earned high honours. In addition to this, Australia has built up an export trade in war equipment worth £12,000,000 in 1940-4)1, and it was estimated that this trade would have expanded to £55,000,000 in 1941-42. Civil industry had been mobilized so that Australia was able to accept an order in December, 1940, for £20,000,000 worth of war equipment from the Eastern Group Supply Council. When Britain suffered the loss of so much military equipment at Dunkirk, Australia sent all the munitions that it could possibly spare. In Great Britain to-day there are Australian rifles which were sent there to help the British hold the country against the Germans and to defend British aerodromes. In spite of all this, however, the Minister for the Army speaks as if he had been both blind and deaf. It is, indeed, a pity that he is not dumb also, because such speeches as he. made are tremendously harmful to Australia’s good name, and detract from the value of the great work which Australia has accomplished. All through his speech, the Minister for the Army revealed that he was still defensively minded, although it is. obvious that we must become offensively minded if we are to win this war. The Minister for the Army said that Australia was practically drained of petrol when the Labour Government came into office. What was the real position? During the early months of 1941, when Britain was. bearing the brunt of the German attack,, and looked as if it might at any time be overwhelmed, the British Government took control of every tanker it could get hold of in order to augment its own petrol supply because at that, time there was sufficient petrol in Britain for only a few weeks use. In addition, all tankers that could be diverted from the United States were filled with petrol and sent to Great Britain, and in that way the German attack was defeated. At the same time, Senator McBride and Senator McLeay, who were the responsible Ministers in the Australian Government, sent men across to the United States of America to charter such tankers as they could get, and they laid the foundations of the plan under which Australia’s own petrol supply has been steadily augmented. There are files in London and in Canberra which prove that beyond all doubt. Therefore, the remarks of the Minister for the Army were not only contemptible in themselves, but also damaging to Australia’s prestige. A million Mr. Fordes could not have got an extra tanker.
I hope that this bill will be passed, because it establishes the principles of conscription for overseas service. I hope that there will be a 100 per cent. vote in favour of it from the Labour benches, as well as a big vote from this side of the House. When the bill is passed, we should review our man-power regulations in the light of the new situation, because we shall then be a conscript nation. Next, we should take steps to establish an allparty government. We should stopparty manoeuvring, and seek to pull together every section in an attempt to save the country. If we do those things our prestige abroad will he increased, the morale of our own. people will be improved, and we shall give better heart to our fighting men.. Let us remove the present invidious distinction between the two sections of theArmy. Let us establish a common interest and common purpose among all sections of the people that will enablethem to meet and overcome every hardship.
.- Like the honorablemember for Barker (Mr- Archie Cameron) and the honorablemember for Wakefield (Mr. DuncanHughes), I have been a constant advocate of the total conscription of everything reqiuired for the war ever since I entered this House.. I agree with practically very word uttered by both those honorable gentlemen. The only difference between them and me is on the question of how best to give- effect to our desires. I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), that it is much better for us to accept this measure, which establishes the principle of conscription for overseas service, than to take the risk which the, amendment moved by the honorable member for Barker involves of never seeing this bill or anything like it again, or until such time as military needs force the Government to reintroduce it. Apart from establishing a principle, this bill will also give a measure of relief to our lads who are so sorely pressed in the northern islands. A remarkable feature is that the only three private members on the Government benches who have spoken would like to see this measure defeated. Not one Government, supporter has shown by his words that he wishes to see this bill passed. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) hopes that even if if be passed it will never be operated. The attitude of the Government supporters fills me with the suspicion that if the bill were withdrawn, as desired by the honorable member for Barker, it would never again see the light of day, unless the needs of the situation compelled the Government to represent it, either in its present form or in the form desired by the honorable member for Barker and those who support him. I agree with the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) that the boundaries set out in lie bill can be widened as needs dictate. I deplore the limits to the area in which the Citizen Military Forces may be used. On that question I am at one with my South Australian colleagues; but I am afraid that if the bill were withdrawn, with a view to removing those limitations, we should never see it again. I am afraid to allow the bill to be withdrawn. I shall therefore help the Government to pass this bill as quickly as possible.
Having every faith in our fighting men, I do not believe for one moment that, once they have the Japanese on the run, they will take any notice of legislation which says that they shall stop their el ase a t the Equator. They will not stop until the enemy has been annihilated and victory won. Our troops will not wait until Parliament has re-assembled in order to pass legislation giving them permission to chase the Japanese beyond the limits which we are now asked to set as the area in which the Militia may serve. The troops will take the matter into their own hands, and drive the Japanese back regardless of legislative limitations.
In November last the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) appreciated the fact that the military situation of this country had deteriorated. He caused to be printed a handbook for use by speakers in the austerity loan campaign. On the cover was a pledge which he asked- every Australian to take and with which I entirely agree. It was then that the Prime Minister courageously threw his previous convictions overboard and said, “ I want to do what is in the best interest of this country “. Tha t pledge read -
We will make this austerity campaign the greatest and most -stirring days of the war. We shall make this our finest hour. Wc pledge ourselves to throw everything we have into a stupendous effort. We shall cut from our Jives every luxury, every relaxation, every temptation to slack. We shall make of our nation two complete fighting armies - the fighting forces to smash their way back through New Guinea, Java, Malaya, the Philippines, and on to Japan, and the working forces that will back the.ni to the limit in mine, factory and workshop. We who fight shall fight as Australians never fought before. We who work shall labour as men and women have never laboured before.
I regret that this bill does not give us that one army, but it is a move in the right direction.
– This bill breaks that pledge.
– The pledge has been broken in a lot of directions already. It is our responsibility to help the Prime Minister to establish one army. It is also the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the forces at home - the workers - shall back the Army .up to the limit. It is the responsibility of the Government and of the people of this country to ensure that appropriate action shall bc taken against people who cause strikes, regardless of whether they are employers or employees. How can we have a total war effort when people are absenting themselves from work and when we have strikes ?
– Do not other countries have strikes?
– I am not so concerned about other countries as I am about this country. We should ask no more from any other country than we ourselves are prepared to give.
It ill became a man holding such a position of responsibility as that of Minister for the Army and Deputy Prime Minister to state, as he did on Thursday last .that when this Government took office there were only a few rounds of ammunition for the various types of weapons in this country. As a member of the Advisory War Council he knew the real position. He knew of the millions of pounds worth of armaments that had been sent to our lads in the Middle East to enable them to keep the enemy at bay. He knew that shells had been sent to the very heart of London to enable the people there to check the “ blitz “. The Minister’s attempt to mislead the people was seized upon by a filthy section of the press in Sydney - I ain thankful to say only a small minority of the Australian press - which said that this matter was likely to be an election issue. I refer the controllers of that newspaper to the booklet which they published last year for the purpose of impressing upon the public the magnitude of the achievements of Australia since the outbreak of war. Let them reprint that information ! I sincerely hope, though I am not confident, that they will have the courage and decency to print the statement that the Prime Minister made this afternoon in reply to a question regarding the bad taste of the Daily Telegraph in publishing a certain cartoon. But the controllers of that newspaper would tear this country asunder to sell their filthy rag on the streets. Every honorable member if elected by a majority of his constituents, and it ill becomes the Daily Telegraph and the Sun to attempt to belittle them, irrespective of the parties they support. From what I have learned since I became a member of this chamber, those newspapers should be the last to throw stones. If they were to look in the mirror at their own reflections, they would hesitate to criticize the actions of others.
Factories for the manufacture of aeroplanes and munitions, shipyards and annexes, did not spring up overnight after the Labour Government took office; the foundations had been well and truly laid long before. The Minister for the Army, when Deputy Leader of the Opposition, was a member of the Advisory War Council and he knows the truth. I deplore these attempts to manufacture cheap political propaganda at the expense of the previous Government, as the Minister did last week. When I became a member of this chamber, I assured the Government of the day of my complete co-operation in any measures to accelerate the war effort. That is still my attitude. When the Austerity Loan was launched, I spoke on many platforms in Western Australia with members of the Labour party, and our sole objective was to emphasize to the public the necessity for making sacrifices comparable with the sacrifices made by our fighting forces. I am gratified to be able to say that our efforts met with considerable success.
I shall support the second reading of the bill, but I understand that, in committee, amendments will be submitted for the purpose of giving effect to a principle in which honorable members on this side of the chamber believe. Like the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), I accept this measure as establishing the principle of conscription for overseas service and making possible the relief so urgently required by our troops in New Guinea.
.- It is extraordinary that such an epoch-making bill should create scarcely any satisfaction in the heart of any honorable member, or group of members, of this Parliament. It has been obvious to the world that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Government are uncomfortable in the circumstances which led to the drafting of the provisions of this legislation, and in their discussions with the Labour party. Equally obvious to the world is the fact that the measure bring no content to the Opposition. On many occasions, honorable members on this side of the chamber have expressed the view that Australia should play its full part, without limitations, as a member of the United Nations. Consequently, this bill, which strictly limits the zone in which the Citizen Military Forces may be employed against the Japanese, does not satisfy them. The measure declares, in effect, that Australia shall be totally engaged in this war within certain boundaries, and only partially engaged beyond them.
More important still, the bill gives no satisfaction to the. honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), who has already forecast a drastic amendment. An extraordinary circumstance early emerged from this debate. Ordinarily, in accordance with parliamentary practice, the Prime Minister would have moved the second reading of the bill, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) would have replied, and the third speaker would have been a senior Minister. On this occasion, something completely unprecedented in the history of this Parliament occurred. Instead of a senior Minister rising to support the bill, the Independent member for Henty received the call. Wo Minister or Government member rose to speak. Was that an accident? Surely the Government does not consider that the Opposition is so unsophisticated as to be deceived by that incident. Obviously, Ministers knew that the honorable member for Henty desired to speak. Did they know his views on the bill? I am convinced that they knew that he would submit an amendment and, accordingly, they arranged for him to receive the early call, though his speech was directed against the legislation. Was that natural? The truth is that the measure was introduced in an atmosphere of trickery. The Government spoke with the voice of the Prime Minister, but knew that immediately, and by arrangement, the honorable member for Henty would forecast an amendment that would destroy the Government’s proposal. One can only conclude that it would be convenient to the Government for this amendment to be carried, because by that means the Government would be relieved of the need to proceed with what it regards as a politically embarrassing proposal.
No one is less pleased with the bill than the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), who is most vitally concerned, because the bill deals with the strategical dispositions of the Army. Did the Minister assist in formulating the bill? Definately he did not, because in a public statement only three weeks before the Prime Minister approached the conference of the Australian Labour party, the Minister said that there was no need for this legislation. What inference is to be drawn from that statement? Quite clearly, the Minister for the Army was not advised by the same military experts as assisted the Prime Minister. In addition, it is obvious that he was not consulted by the Prime Minister regarding the provisions of the bill. He did not enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister in relation to this . epochmaking departure in policy by the Labour party. Any Minister less thickskinned than the honorable gentleman would have resigned his portfolio rather than suffer such humiliation, or have heaped upon him such contempt by his military advisers.
Let us consider the speech that the honorable gentleman delivered. Did he say anything about the military provisions of this measure, or about the disposition of the forces under his control? Oh no! Some of us who heard his speech have since read the report of it, so we know very well that it contained nothing about the military necessities or the disposition of the armed forces of Australia. It was merely a repetition of the distorted and misleading statements that the honorable gentleman had previously made about the military position as he found it when this Government assumed office. The speech was notable, as others of the honorable gentleman have been, not for what was said, but for what was left unsaid. Surely, if the honorable gentleman had wished to play the game, and to discuss fairly the position in which he found Australia when this Government came into office, he could have made some reference to the hundreds of thousands of trained men who were then in uniform. He could have said something about the vast quantity of equipment and personal requisites that had been put in the hands of those men. He could have said something about the hundreds of thousands of rifles, the thousands of machine guns, and the flow of mortars, 25-pounders, 3.7 anti-aircraft guns, universal carriers, armoured cars and coastal guns the production of which had been started during the term of office of the previous Government. The honorable gentleman knew the facts in this connexion as well as I know them; but he did not say anything about them. All he did was to try to discredit the previous Government and to emphasize what Labour had done since its assumption of office.
He said, also, that there was not one fighter plane in Australia when the Labour Government came into office; but he might have said something about the 150 modern twin-engined bomber planes that were here, and the thousand odd second-line bomber planes that were being vised partly for training. He might have said also that we were on the point of reaching a major flow of production of Beaufort bombers. He said nothing of the kind.
– One of the first things I had to do when I came into office was to get rid of a certain commission of which the honorable gentleman knows something.
– That commission consisted of competent, public-spirited servants of this country who had to work under extreme difficulties in their endeavours to carry out the. Beaufort bomber programme. They did not achieve anything like the success that they and we had hoped for. The right honorable gentleman replaced them by another authority.
– That is right.
– And he knows very well that that other authority has had an identical experience in respect of the production of other types of aircraft. There is no need for me to remind the Prime Minister of the facts in this connexion.
What else did the Minister for the Army say? Heaven knows the provision that had been made was extensive enough ; but was there any reason for the honorable gentleman to say, “When I came into office there was not a single round of ammunition in this country for . 310 rifles “ ? That statement is substantially true. But why did not the Minister add that the . 310 weapons were cadet rifles made during the Boer War ? Perhaps he did not know that. Why were we obliged to issue these weapons to our back-line armed forces, such as guards in prisonerofwar and internee camps?
– About 84,000 of these rifles were issued.
– That is substantially correct. But why was it necessary to issue them? We had to issue them because we had sent scores of thousands of modern . 303 rifles to England, together with millions of rounds of ammunition, in order to assist the Royal Air Force in England to shoot down Germans who were over London, and in order to re-arm the British, soldiers who had escaped from Dunkirk. I am proud of what I did in that connexion. I believe that we did the right thing in sending many thousands of modern rifles to England at that time because the enemy was only 20 miles away from the shores of England., whereas we did not, have an enemy closer than Libya.
M r. Calwell interjecting,
– The fact remains that 84,000 of the . 310 rifles were issued.
– Order I If the honorable member for Melbourne continues to interject I shall have to take other action.
– My statement is correct.
– I name the honorable member for Melbourne.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Melbourne had no intentionto offend against the rules of the House, by disregarding the call from the Chair, and I believe that he will withdraw and apologize if given the opportunity to do so.
– The honorable member deliberately interjected after he had been warned not to do so.
– I withdraw and apologize.
– I have said enough on that point. The statement of the Minister for the Army that we had not one modern fighter aircraft in Australia when the Curtin Government assumed office is so near to the truth that I have no desire to argue aibout it. But why were there no modern fighter aircraft here at that time? The reason was that in ‘October, 1941, we could have obtained modern fighter aircraft from England only by pressing for them and having them at that time when the battle for Britain was still proceeding with the utmost intensity. Every modern fighter aircraft that was available was required in Great Britain to resist the ferocious attacks of the enemy. At that time we had. no enemy nearer to us than Libya. The Minister for the Army said nothing whatever about that. Does he think that we ought to have pressed Great Britain to send modern fighter aircraft here, to be left on the ground at Sydney or Laverton or somewhere else, at a time when every possible aircraft was needed to give cover to London and to Coventry? Does he think that we should have been calling for Spitfires and Hurricanes and other modern aircraft from Great Britain and also for modern machines from the United States of America simply in order that we might draw our shawl a little more closely about our shoulders? I am a party to the policy of not pressing Great Britain to uncover London and Coventry, and I am prepared to accept the verdict of the Australian people on that point. But we had ordered the aeroplanes, and they have now arrived - -not only the aeroplanes ordered by the present Government, but also those ordered by the last Government. They arrived when our own peril became imminent and when the battle for Britain had already been won. I do not propose to waste more time over the speech of the Minister for the Army, but it was necessary to say something to expose the fallacy of the things which he said, and to explain something about the things which he did not say.
The measure now before the House became inevitable after the speeches of the Prime Minister and some of his Ministers. They spoke with great satisfaction to the Australian people about Australia becoming a springboard from which was to be launched an attack on Japan. The Prime Minister has said and written that there would be one Australian army which would smash its way back through the Netherlands East Indies, through Malaya, through Indo-‘China and into the heart of Japan itself. He has told the world that Australia was fighting mad. What else could he do after having made those great threats and bold promises than to bring before Parliament proposals to remove the limitation upon the use of Australian conscripts, and make it legally possible for them to go and fight in the only manner which can give us safety? We cannot win safety by keeping our forces in Australia, or by allowing them merely to cross the narrow seas into New Guinea. There is only one road to safety for a small white population situated as we are on the fringe of Asia; that is, for us to go forward to the defeat and military destruction of Japan, and to do that we must be able to send our troops wherever necessary. I was delighted, as were the people of Australia, to hear the clarion call issued by the Prime Minister. It showed us as a nation prepared to fight all-out in defence of our country. If what the Prime Minister said was not mere words it was necessary that the policy which he enunciated should be given effect in legislation. The Prime Minister’s -utterances raised our prestige, and established our right to ask for aid, even if some thought that the asking for aid sounded upon occasions rather like “squealing”. But now the whole balloon has collapsed. After all the brave words, it now becomes evident, that the nation is to be organized for total war only up to a prescribed line.
This fine coiner of phrases, this leader of a democratic nation, attended as Prime Minister a meeting of the Australian Labour party and submitted a motion asking that the Australian Government be authorized to do the things which he declared were, in his opinion, and in the opinion of his military advisers, absolutely necessary for the safety of the country. Surely nothing of the kind has ever been seen in history. Surely never before has the head of a democratic nation gone to a secret meeting of men, whose names have not even been published, and asked for authority to do things which he believed were militarily necessary for the safety of the nation. That action of the Prime Minister is to be greatly regretted, and I am convinced that it was not constitutional. I cannot believe that it was consistent with the oath taken by a Minister to discharge his duty to His Majesty in the government of Australia to the best of his ability. This action represented a pitiful collapse of the balloon of high promises. Our enemies must be encouraged ; the British and our Allies must be dumbfounded; our own people must find it utterly incomprehensible. They must be unable to understand how we can speak of total war when the Government is prepared to wage war only up to a fixed line, a zone so limited that even one of the island dependencies of Australia itself is excluded. The unhappy truth of the matter is that this measure reveals Australia, of all belligerent nations whose territory has been attacked by an enemy, as the only one which places a limit on the effort it is prepared to make in its defence, and on the contribution which it is prepared to make to the common cause. This debate, and public criticism outside Parliament, have revealed the Australian people as disunited on the matter of their own defence.
– So is the Opposition.
– Yes, the Opposition is disunited, and so are the Australian people. What other result can we expect when we are confronted with a halfbaked, ineffective measure of this kind? What we need is complete national unity. Nothing short of that could have enabled the people of Great Britain to resist an invasion, when even to many of their friends their plight seemed hopeless. Nothing but complete national unity could have inspired the Russian people to their almost unbelievable resistance and their present magnificent offensive. However, national unity can never ‘be born of the doctrine that the individual is to receive more and more from the community, while giving to the community less and less; yet that is the doctrine preached by the Labour party, a doctrine fatal to the making of a complete war effort. All along, the Labour party has preached the doctrine of limited sacrifice and limited effort by the individual who is claiming for himself everything from the community. In time of peace, the Labour party preached that there should be no compulsory military training, even for home defence. Prominent members of the Labour party have in this Parliament voted against even reasonable provision for the defence of the country. They raised their voices against the taking of a national register of man-power. They have exercised their votes to prevent the provisions of the Defence Act from being extended to New Guinea and other overseas territories of Australia. They have been constant in their opposition to achieving unity in this country on the highest plane, by the management of its affairs under the auspices of an all-party government. They either raised their voices in support, or sat silent, when in the initial stages of this war there was considerable opposition to the working of overtime in munitions establishments.
– Because they were working on a cost-plus basis.
– Because honorable members preached constantly the doctrine of class consciousness, the setting of one section of the community against another ; thus, they caused division which has rendered it impossible to achieve unity and a maximum war effort. Even at the present time, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) refuses to accept a contract by a factory for the manufacture of war material unless the management is prepared to certify that every employee is a trade unionist, and, ipso facto - I take it - an adherent of the Labour party. Honorable members opposite opposed the enrolment of women in the auxiliary services and, in the early stages, their employment in industry. Many of them are still opposing compusory military service overseas even to the modified, miserable degree embodied in this bill. My object in reiterating these points is to stress that it is time the Labour party learned the lesson that, in a small white community situated as we are, virtually on the fringe of Asia, an adequate foundation for total resistance against the overwhelming numerical superiority of the coloured people of Japan cannot be achieved by the constant preaching of the doctrine of class consciousness, and limitation of effort on the part of the individual. I hope that the fact that the Prime Minister has been forced to the conclusion that it is necessary for him to abandon the traditional attitude against the compulsory service of Australians overseas, will be taken as a lesson on the wider plane, and will lead to the realization that this country must have opportunity to achieve a spiritual and national unity such as is seen in other countries which are threatened, and that this can be obtained only by discontinuing the preaching of class consciousness. On the subject of making available for service overseas all Australians who have been compulsorily enrolled and trained, I agree with the Prime Minister that even the meagre dimensions of this measure will probably meet the requirements of the military situation for the next few months. The right honorable gentleman has dealt with that matter in a fairly comprehensive if not very detailed manner. He has stated that, in this theatre, our assigned task is that of a holding war. He has referred to our own forces and those of our allies, in the north, as an army of caretakers in this theatre. He has even mentioned that the great need is first to defeat Germany, leaving Japan to be dealt with later. I regard it as tragic that the Prime Minister should have found himself compelled, in the necessary course of making speeches in order to build up an atmosphere for a measure such as this, to make an explanation of the immediate military plans in this theatre, and, on the wider scale, what may almost be described as an exposure of the decisions on grand strategy. It is tragic that it should be necessary for the Prime Minister to refer to the fact that the operations in this theatre are to be regarded as a holding war, and that our forces are to be in the nature of caretakers. Surely the leader of this country is not always to be compelled, by political necessity, to expose military secrets in order that he may create a political atmosphere favorable to his obtaining something from a miserable party, or even from this Parliament. In common with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), and many others, I do not consider for one moment that this measure will be the end of the matter. The honorable member for Bourke has stated to-day that the Prime Minister secured from the Labour conference an even wider authority for the employment of Australian troops than that which is described in the bill. If that be so, I am sorry that the right honorable gentleman did not exercise it. There is not the slightest doubt, as has been stated by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the honorable member for Bourke, and others, that when our men approach the limits set in this measure, a further measure will be introduced into this House. What, then, will be the atmosphere? Doubtless it will be similar to what prevails at present - temporary division within the ranks of the Australian people; abroad, . an explanation that the military authorities now plan ,to move in this theatre north from the Equator to the Tropic of Cancer and west from the 110th to the 105th meridian. In fact, we are to have a succession of bills, each of which will be the means of providing, for the benefit of our friends and our enemies alike, a public explanation of the immediate plans, in point of distance and of time, for the employment of not only Australian but also allied troops in this theatre.
– The honorable member does not think that.
– I do. That is inevitable; it is inherent in this measure.
– Then why not vote against the bill?
– That would not be a logical step for me to take, wishing as I do that Australian troops shall be used abroad. The Minister for War Organization of Industry would like to trick me into doing what he has suggested. He exposes himself as being in connivance with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles). Wa are not so simple as to fall into such a trap. We see the reality of the matter. The advocacy for a quarter of a century of the policy of anti-conscription has enmeshed the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in a net out of which they are now tediously and slowly attempting to hack their way. This paltry, pitiful measure is merely one consequence of their attempts to incite the Australian people, for party political reasons, against the bogy of conscription. I am sorry that the expedients which are necessary in order that they may extricate themselves from this net of their own making are now causing not only embarrassment to themselves and division among the Australian people, but also delay in the formulation of military plans. Surely, if there is one unforgivable offence in the conduct of total war, it is the delaying of the possibility of completing military plans. That is another consequence of this unhappy state of affairs. Even this proposal might have -come to nought but for the happy decision of Mr. D’ Alton of Tasmania.
– Have another guess.
– Wrong again.
– Well, Mr. Kelly. At any rate, six State Labour executives-
– It was Mrs. Kelly.
- Mrs. Kelly, was it? Well, it is more pathetic than ever to think that Mrs. Kelly, Mr. D’ Alton, Mr. Jones or any one obscure person in Tasmania should be able to decide what should be Australia’s policy, for, if it had not been for the vote cast at the meeting of the State Labour executive by Mrs. Kelly, all this grand planning of the Prime Minister would have collapsed, because, to use words of his own choice, he would not have secured <the authority to bring into this Parliament a bill which he described as a military necessity of great urgency. It is a sad and sorry story. It is a smeared page in the history of the Australian people. This mean and paltry bill violates every tradition of the Australian people and destroys our claim to be a bold and courageous race. The point is, however, that the Prime Minister and the Labour party have at last abandoned, in a reluctant, and halting fashion, their traditional opposition to the compulsory employment of Australians in service overseas. That is the great point. It stands out like a mountain peak from the shortcomings of this measure. If we cannot get a full measure of co-operation with our kinsfolk and our allies, we should seize this partial measure. I am not to be trapped or misled into supporting any amendments the result of which would be to exchange the reality of the acceptance of conscription for overseas service for some words. The alternative to this measure, within the authority of this House, is not “the wider service that some of us advocate, but nothing at all in the military sense. There would be only the personal satisfaction of posturing and saying, “I voted that out, but I voted it out to get total conscription “. That course does not appeal to the majority of members of the Opposition. We support this partial step by the Labour party, but we will be unceasing in our efforts to bring into full play a policy without which we shall not be able to face our allies.
– The honorable member for- Indi (Mr. McEwen) was for two years a member of a government which did not have the corn-age to amend the Defence Act and which left Australia, as was shown by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), almost defenceless. The only thing that the honorable gentleman can say in reply is that the previous Government sent everything to Great Britain. The truth is that the honorable member is a disappointed man. He hopes again to enjoy the plums of office by pleading for a national government. Would he not be a nice person for us to work with? It is a wonder that he deigns to associate with us in view of everything he has raked up from the past about us. In 1938, in Tasmania, I attended a conference which was attended by about 300 delegates representing every section of the Labour party and the unions in that State. The then Premier of Tasmania, Mr. A. G. Ogilvie, who had been overseas, was there. That conference unanimously carried a resolution advocating the re-introduction of universal training.
– And never did anything about it.
– How could we? We were not in office. In this House, I said that it was necessary to introduce universal training. I spoke feelingly, because I myself had been abroad and had seen the millions of young men in Europe being trained for military service, and I knew that our boys in Australia were not being trained at all. The only honorable member to support me was the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). What was the excuse of the honorable member for Indi, who declared that he could hardly bear to associate with people who would not protect themselves ? Although he was Minister for Air in the previous Government, he lacked the courage to advocate conscription, because he feared that if he did so, he would be defeated at the next election. I like a man who, without humbug, will fight for his principles.
According to the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), the previous Government could not have introduced conscription in 1940, because any attempt to do so would have torn Australia asunder. In other words, the previous Government feared that it would be defeated at the following election. The right honorable gentleman thought more of his political skin than he did of the welfare of the country. The Labour party objected to the despatch of Australian troops overseas for a very good reason. When the Menzies Government seat the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Force to train in the Middle East, the men were badly equipped. One honorable member stated in this chamber that our troops were glad that they had not been attacked in the early stages, because they would not have been able adequately to defend themselves. Australia lacked the factories to produce the materials with which to equip those men.
– They were promised that they would be provided with equipment when they reached the Middle East.
– They did not get it.
– They not only got the equipment, but also brought it back to Australia when this Government recalled them.
– Admittedly our men brought back to Australia a great deal , more equipment than they took away with them. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, realized that the position in Australia was precarious, and he sanctioned the transfer of that equipment from the Middle East to Australia. I am convinced that Mr. Churchill will do everything in his power to assist Australia, and there has never been any deterioration of the friendly relations between him and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
Although the honorable member for Indi declares that he is in favour of conscription, he made no attempt to introduce it when he was a member of the previous Government. The Prime Minister was opposed to conscription, and fought it strenuously during the last war. The Labour party would fight conscription again if an attempt were made to compel our troops to serve in any part of the world. This bill does not introduce conscription.
– It does.
– I disagree. The bill merely extends the zone in which the Citizen Military Forces may be used for the purpose of protecting Australia.
– Do not make excuses. They have to defend their own country.
– Of course we have to defend our own country. But the Government will not send the Citizen Military Forces to distant parts of the world. If our troops are required to serve in Africa or elsewhere, we shall have an adequate number of volunteers for the purpose.
I hope that the bill will pass without a dissentient voice. The honorable member for Indi and others saw in the presentation of this measure a golden opportunity to make political capital at’ the expense of the Government. The honorable member declared that the amendment forecast by the honorable member for Henty was designed to provide the Government with an opportunity for escape. As a member of the Cabinet, I did not know that the honorable member for Henty proposed to submit an amendment.
– Nor did any other Minister.
– The honorable member for Indi has adopted a most petty attitude. Although he feared the consequences of any attempt on his part to sponsor conscription after the outbreak of war, he now bitterly assails the Government for its alleged shortcomings. His speech was a tissue of misrepresentations. We know that we have to send our troops beyond the present limits for the purpose of defending Australia. I hope that the war will end quickly and that our losses will not be great, though I fear that they will be grievous.
.- This bill authorizes the service of the Citizen Military Forces in a limited portion of the South-West Pacific Area. As I listened to the debate, I became more than ever convinced that very few honorable members have any regard for the proposals of the Government. They are regarded as hopelessly inadequate, utterly unsatisfactory, and painfully unjust to other members of the United Nations opposed to the Axis. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) assured the House that his military advisers had informed him that the bill was urgently required. Although the measure is wholly unsatisfactory to the Opposition, we shall have to accept it as being a step towards our objective. I shall vote for the bill, but I reserve to myself the right to support any later proposals for extending the present strictly limited boundaries in which the Citizen Military Forces may serve. Obviously, the mandate which the Prime Minister obtained from the union bosses was substantially wider than the proposals contained in the measure.
– The honorable member knows nothing about it.
– On the authority of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), ‘the mandate granted to the Prime Minister was in respect of a much wider area than that which the bill defines. But supporters of the Government are opposed to any form of conscription. The amendment forecast by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) is a bogus one; obviously, the honorable member has become a tool of the Labour party. Never before has this chamber witnessed the spectacle of an independent member rising at the beginning of an important debate to reply to the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for Henty obtained the call because no Minister or supporter of the Government wished to have it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has submitted an amendment designed to secure the withdrawal and recasting of the bill. I have heard sufficient of this debate to realize that there is a pronounced lack of enthusiasm for this bill on the part of members of the Labour party. I am sure that if the measure were withdrawn it would never see the light of day again. The great majority of Government supporters in this chamber are opposed to the measure. Of the two private members opposite who have spoken in the debate, one, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), has urged that it be withdrawn, thus clearly indicating the attitude of many Government supporters. The honorable gentleman also expressed the hope that if the measure were passed it would never be implemented.
The bill approves the principle of conscription for overseas service which, hitherto, has always been anathema to the Labour party. The Prime Minister, in fact, has gained the distinction of having introduced the first bill ever to be placed before this Parliament providing for conscription for overseas service. But as soon as the. right honorable gentleman obtained from the union bosses who govern this Government a mandate to introduce the bill he began to whittle down his original proposals. The provisions of this bill are not on all-fours with the proposal which the right honorable gentleman made to the Australian Labour party conference. Moreover his proposals received the support of only a bare majority of the State Labour executives. We are well aware that the Victorian executive almost unanimously opposed the measure and that the Queensland executive also opposed it. The Tasmanian Australian Labour party executive approved it by a majority of only one vote. It may be said, therefore, that the Prime Minister’s scheme only just squeezed through the union barrier. In such circumstances it is perhaps not surprising that some honorable gentlemen opposite are asking that the bill be withdrawn or that if it be passed it shall remain a dead letter on the statute-book. I shall not risk a vote that may result in the withdrawal of the measure.
– The honorable member is not prepared to face an election on the issue.
– The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) is not prepared even to debate the bill. We all are well aware that outside this House, with
Mr. Lang and certain other members of the Labour party in New South Wales, he is shouting to high heaven for the withdrawal of the bill ; but the honorable member’s mouth is sealed in this chamber. I challenge him to address himself to the measure, but I am sure that he will not do so for he is opposed to it.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The object of the Government in bringing down these proposals is to define an area in the Southwest Pacific for service in which our Militia canbe conscripted. Whilst we as a party strongly object and vigorously resist the extreme limitations imposed upon the area defined, we accept the bill as the first step towards our objective. These proposals are only a shadow of the authority that the Prime Minister obtained from the union bosses. That authority, obtained early in January of this year, has been whittled down by Caucus. I make that statement on the authority of the press and the speech delivered this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). Although we are in the second week of the debate, only two private members of the Government have so far spoken. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) appealed to the Government to withdraw its proposals and throw them under the table.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member also appealed to the Government not to implement the proposals if they were carried. We have thus been given an indication of the attitude of members of the Government party towards the bill. Nothing would please the Government better than the acceptance of the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), proposing the withdrawal of the bill in order that it may be redrafted in. such a way as to provide for a greater measure of conscription. Such a bill would never see the light of day.
This is the first occasion in our history on which a conscription proposal has been submitted to this Parliament by the Labour party. That redounds to the credit of the party, although certain members of it are now trying to walk away from the proposal. The bill represents a complete change of front by the party. It establishes a new principle in army organization and administration, which this House should seize and upon which it should act without the least delay. I say that because the Prime Minister himself has stated that, according to his military advisers, the passage of the measure is urgently needed. The union bosses gave leave to introduce it in a grudging fashion, and only because of the affirmative vote cast by the representatives of the small State of Tasmania. It was opposed by Victoria and Queensland. The bill having been passed, even with its niggardly limitations, only a slight amendment by the party of which I am a member when it is returned to power at an early date will be necessary in order to shift the boundary, if necessary; to Japan or the North Pole.
Let us examine the attitude of the Labour party to defence in the last great war. It was opposed to an all-in war effort, and resisted the sending of Australian forces overseas. In 1931, it destroyed the great defence organization for universal training, which had been built up on the glorious traditions of the Australian Imperial Force in the last war.
– The Government supported by the honorable member did nothing to restore it.
– When the clouds presaging the outbreak of the present war were obscuring the horizon, honorable members who now constitute the Government vigorously opposed the restoration of compulsory military service; but, despite their intense efforts, the Menzies Government effected the restoration. We are in a new age of mechanized warfare. Many months of intense training are needed in order to train an army to handle the numerous mechanisms. Members of the Government, when in opposition, did their utmost to deny to the young manhood of Australia an opportunity to learn how to defend themselves. Had they had their way, we would not have had the organization that exists to-day. As in the last great war, it was the organization which had been built up under compulsory training that made it possible for the excellent work of the Australian Imperial Force to be accomplished. The restoration of compulsory training by the Menzies Government made possible the organization of the splendid second Australian Imperial Force, and enabled its members to do the wonderful work they have done in this war. Had not the second Australian Imperial Force been trained and sent overseas to fight in Libya, Greece, Crete and Syria, it would not have had the experience which qualified it to perform in New Guinea deeds which have staggered the world. When in opposition, “members of the Government opposed the sending of the second Australian Imperial Force overseas. They would have denied to it the training which has made possible the defence of Australia. In the early preparations, they opposed the taking of a compulsory national register of the manhood and womanhood of this country, with a view to their being used where they might be most valuable for the defence of Australia. When the Government came into office, it had to compile a second national register, thus wasting time and hundreds of thousands of pounds. When in opposition, Government members opposed the Empire Air Training Scheme, without which this war could not be won.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I remind the House, also, that the wonderful exploits of the 9th Division of the second Australian Imperial Force were largely responsible for the success of the 8th British Army at El Alamein. That division went, from Australia to Great Britain to stand with the Mother Country after the serious losses it had sustained at Dunkirk. It was trained in Great Britain, and was later transferred to the Middle East. The isolationist policy which members of the Government, when in opposition, preached and practised, has done incalculable harm to the defence of this country.
I shall support, with the utmost pleasure, this proposal to provide a measure of conscription for overseas service, in order to make it possible for us to put forward a maximum war effort and stand up to the obligations that we owe to the united nations in their fight against the Axis forces. This small instalment can be increased to any degree considered necessary by our military advisers. Nothing is more certain than that, if the Government had a chance of inducing us to defeat the measure, it would have the greatest pleasure in seizing it. I have the greatest respect for, and appreciation of our Militia. It is a thousand pities that the Government has not given to the members of that force, an opportunity to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, as it protested it would, and so build up a sound, well-organized and united fighting force for the defence of this country. What this nation needs more than anything else is a united army. The Australian Military Forces have been shockingly humbugged. They should long ago have been organized on a united basis. Our divisions should have been properly constituted, divisional commanders should ha ve been appointed, and they should have been allowed to train their troops in such a way as to develop a united Australian army corps. Since Japan entered the war, fourteen months have elapsed, yet the Government is still fooling about in the building up of our armed forces. As soon as Japan commenced hostilities, the Opposition, through its leader, on the 17th December, 1941, advised the Government that it would unanimously support any measure that would enable our troops to be employed in any area considered vitally necessary to the defence of the Commonwealth. A reply to that letter was not received. Last May, this party considered itself impelled to move for the removal of all territorial limitations on the power of the Government to employ our Military Forces, wherever our military advisers considered they should be engaged. That proposal was defeated, with the co-operation of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), who last week announced his intention of moving what may be described as a bogus amendment,, in order to try to undo the damage he did to our fighting forces by failing to support our proposal last May. This record of our representations cannot leave in the minds of the Parliament or the country any doubt as to where we stand on the conscription issue. We have never suggested the indiscriminate despatch of the Militia from Australia. We have always advocated that existing legal impediments should be removed, so that any plan which the Government, on the recommendation of its military advisers, might consider necessary to meet an emergency, could be introduced and put into effect without delay. We regard the present proposals as only a step in that direction. Niggardly and shameful though they are, we consider that, as they establish a principle, even if only to a limited degree, they are worthy of acceptance. At the appropriate time, we shall enlarge the area, if necessary, as far as the North Pole.
For the reasons that I have given, I support the bill. I regret that it does not go further. I do not consider that the Government is doing a fair thing, oils playing the part that it should play in co-operation with the United Nations. It is impossible for me or for anybody else to understand the mind of the Government, especially as it requires our Navy, our Royal Australian Air Force and our Australian Imperial Force to serve in any theatre of war. The Citizen Military Force is to bc required to servo only in an area bounded on the west by the 110th meridian, on the north by the Equator, and on the east by the 159th meridian. It embraces only the small islands immediately north of Australia, a small portion of Java, Borneo and Celebes, and a portion of the Solomons. Having regard to the fact that the recent conference between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt in North Africa decided that Australia should wage a waiting war, we shall not, have reached as far as the Equator when the time has come to hold a general election in Australia. The people will respond to our appeal. I feel certain that, by supporting these proposals, and by creating a unified army, we shall render a valuable service to the country.
– There is nothing in the hill about merging the two sections of the Army.
– That is another feature of the bill to which I object. For the first time in the history of Australia military conscription is to be established. We have had industrial conscription for quite a long time. I now appeal to the Government, since we are to have both military and industrial conscription, to make an immediate review of the manpower position.
– And introduce conscription of wealth?
– If taxation at the rate of 18s. in the £1 is not conscription of wealth, I do not know what would be. When war broke out, the men of Australia rushed to join, the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Australian Navy, and the Militia. Now that we have accepted the principle of conscription, we should review the position of those men who are employed in munitions works- Those men who are fit should be transferred to the fighting forces. An examination should be made of the physical condition of men in the fighting forces, most of whom have been seriously_ overtaxed. All the men who fought in the Middle East, in Syria, in Greece and in Crete, and those who have more recently fought in New Guinea, should be placed in munitions factories if they are capable of doing the work, and others should be relieved and transferred to the land for the production of foodstuffs. Then we should set about the establishment of a unified army, and in that way achieve our maximum war effort.
The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), in speaking on this measure last week, said that when he came into office the country was in an almost defenceless state. Honorable members opposite have the audacity to cheer that statement. Since the introduction of this bill no newspaper in Australia has criticized the leaders of the political parties and the Parliament generally more trenchantly than has the Sydney Daily ‘Telegraph. About twelve months ago, just shortly after the present Government came into office, the Daily Telegraph appointed a special research staff to inquire into and report upon Australia’s war effort, and the following extract is from the publication which was then compiled : -
Great Britain is spending 33^ per cent, of its income on the war, and it must be admitted that Australia is making an extraordinary effort when it, a young nation with a small population, is now spending the same proportion. That is something of which any nation might be proud. I have placed on record the astounding achievement of the last Government during the first two years of the war, because it is a complete answer to the childish statements of the Minister for the Army.
Nobody is pleased with this bill. The supporters of the Government are not pleased, with it, as is evident from some of their speeches. We are not pleased with it, because it does not go far enough, but we believe that by accepting this proposal for conscription in a limited area, we can render a service to the men in the fighting forces, and we promise to amend the boundaries as soon as we return to office by fixing them wherever our military advisers recommend. I am sure that these proposals will be accepted by the country with enthusiasm. When this measure is passed, and when we have a unified army and a united people, Australia will be in a position to make a maximum war effort. Until then it will not be able to do so.
.- Seeing that the Government introduced this bill, it is strange that so few of its supporters have seen fit to rise in their places and. extol it. We can only conclude that the Government is not very pleased with the measure. Well, I can say that nobody on this side of the House is very pleased with it, either, but at least it does one thing with which we are pleased ; it does, after the lapse of many years, bring all political parties in this House into line in support of conscription.
Last week, the Minister for the Army (Mx. Forde) made a speech in this House in which he outlined the improvements which had been effected in Australia’s military establishment since he assumed office. The implication was that he alone was responsible for this improvement - which is, of course, a ludicrous suggestion. The Minister reminds me of little Jack Horner who “ sat in a corner ; he stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum, and said, ‘ What a good boy am I ‘ “. We can all understand, of course, that during the last twelve or fourteen months the size of the Australian Army has been increased. If credit for the improvement of our defences is to go to any one man more than another, it should go to our old friend and colleague, the late Geoff. Street, who was confronted with the extraordinarily difficult task of attempting to create an army out of nothing. He had to start at a time when the only military academy in Australia had been closed for years by a Labour government, when compulsory military training had been discontinued by a Labour government, and after every move for improving the defence of Australia had been consistently opposed by the Labour party. How different was the position when the present Minister for the Army assumed office. The plain fact is that the present Government came into power at the very time when, because of the good foundations laid by its predecessor, it was able to proceed immediately with the enlargement of the Army, and to equip it with material coming forward from factories established by the previous Government. The great increase of war production in the last twelve months could not have been achieved without the work that was first set in hand in April, 1940, when Australia came to the full realization that we were in fact at war. The Minister for the Army makes himself ludicrous in the eyes of the public when he tries to claim full credit for the expansion of our military forces.
I propose to emphasize three points of great importance arising out of this measure and events leading thereto. The first is the fallacy of having two armies when one would suffice, the second is the supremacy of this Parliament, and the third is the bill itself. It is a matter of great regret that we were so misguided as to establish two armies, one the Australian Imperial Force, composed of volunteers willing to serve anywhere, and the other the Militia, whose sphere of operations is to be widened by this legislation. That policy is as old as Australia is old, but it is wrong just the same, and totally wrong when we are confronted with total war. The defensive complex fostered by the Maginot Line and by such writers as Liddell Hart before the war has been proved to be both dangerous and fatal. It has been proved in other wars besides this war that the side that holds the initiative has the advantage. Therefore, an army should be trained in offensive tactics and not as a defensive garrison, as we set out to do with the Militia. I admit that the party of which I am a member must take the responsibility for the establishment of two armies, but I do say that had we had an intelligent Opposition we should have needed no persuasion to emulate New Zealand’s example and create one army to serve wherever required. As the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) said in this debate, had he or any other Prime Minister on our side of politics attempted to merge our military forces into one army and introduce full conscription his action would have been misrepresented for political purposes and the utmost disunity would have been created. This Government is lucky to have such an Opposition, as we are. We will always fight the Government when it tries to use the war as an excuse for introducing its particular political beliefs, but, whenever it has the courage to come into this House with a measure designed to give the war effort a vigorous push forward, it will be assured of our wholehearted support. If .the Government will take its courage into its hands and move for the establishment of one army for Australia for service anywhere it will meet with the unanimous support of members on this side of the House.
One result of the creation of the two armies was the continual enriching of the Australian Imperial Force at the expense of the Militia. When the Australian Imperial Force was established Militia officers resigned commissions and non-commissioned officers in their hundreds forfeited their stripes in order to join the Australian Imperial Force.
Equipment, naturally enough, went first to the Australian ImperialForce. It is only reasonable to assume that after a while the Militia became a sort of neglected child. Moreover, between the two forces there developed a spirit of mistrust which has continued to this day. That esprit de corps that is needed in fighting men has been lacking as between the two armies. Since the Militia has been in action the ill feeling which many members of the Australian Imperial Eorce held towards them has diminished, but, unhappily, it still exists to a degree. None of this is good for morale. The weakness in the two-army system was exposed by that great German soldier Ludendorff. He made it perfectly plain that it was a mistake to train two armirs, one an army of shock troops and the other a holding army. He maintained that one of the principal reasons for the defeat of the German Army in the last war was this error. We are persisting with the same mistake and it should be rectified at the earliest moment. After Singapore had fallen we had the spectacle of something approaching panic amongst Ministers. It was a standing joke in the Opposition room that at any time we could expect the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to come into the House and announce the terms of surrender. One of the main reasons for their discomfiture was the fact that most of the Australian Imperial Force was abroad and Ministers did not know how the Militia would conduct itself if Australia were attacked. It is an undeniable truth that while we have division we shall lack in strength and that while we lack in strength we shall be failing to do our utmost for the defence of the country.
Entirely apart from the military aspect, it is desirable that we should have the one army instead of two, because otherwise we shall have unnecessary problems to deal with in the post-war period. I am loath to talk about the post-war period, because we have a big enough job in hand, but, unless we have one army, we shall after the war have the spectacle of two rival organizations of returned servicemen. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia will accept as members none but volunteers who have served abroad. The militiamen, debarred from membership of this organization, will be bound to set up their own organization. This will tend to intensify disunity. That problem ought to be faced now and solved by the simple expedient of welding the two forces into one. The Australian Imperial Force has no monopoly of the fine material in our men. I know hundreds of lads, who are in the Militia for one good reason or another, and are every bit as good as the men in the Australian Imperial Force. I commend the Government for having decided to take this important step away from its traditional policy of no conscription,but I regret that it has not seen fit to go as far as we should have liked to see it go.
The supremacy of this Parliament has been challenged by the Prime Minister having gone to the Trades Hall for instructions on a matter of major policy. All the legislation should be initiated in and passed by the Parliament. The spectacle of the Prime Minister going to the trade unions for approval before introducing this measure was degrading.
– The honorable member’s party consults the executive of the United Australia party.
– To consult is one thing, but to go to an outside body for instructions is another thing. We cannot tolerate the Government’s submission to instruction by an outside organization. The Government will eventually have to answer to the people for its action in this matter. The Parliament was kept waiting for weeks until the decision of the trade union conference was made known. The right honorable gentleman attended that conference, not as Prime Minister, but as a delegate from Western Australia, and as such he pleaded for permission to introduce this legislation. It is the custom of the La’bour party to have its policy formulated for it by trade union conferences outside this House, even in respect of matters of defence policy, but it should be made clear that this is a complete derogation of democracy and a principle that should not be tolerated.
Several conferences have been held since the outbreak of the war for the purpose of determining the policy of the party, and I have reports of some of the statements that were made from time to time by delegates. They are strange people. Mr. A. E. Morrison, representing the Victorian Liquor Trades, said in 1940 that he had a family of nine and would rather follow his sons to the cemetery and smile over their bodies than see them wearing khaki to fight in the interests of the capitalists. Mr. J. J. Maloney, M.L.C., the representative of the New South Wales Boot Trades, declared -
I believe that we should, to a man, be against the war lock, stock and barrel.
Of course, Mr. Thornton figures in these discussions. He played a leading part in evolving the latest policy of the Labour party. In the early days of the war he could not have been described as being strictly loyal to Australia. In fact, many of the people who now demand conscription, and who are prepared to fight, were not loyal to our cause until Russia became our ally.
– I am not sure that they want to fight.
– I agree that many of them do not want to fight; they are to be found in exempted occupations, such as the munitions industry. A few weeks ago, the Labour movement resolved that honorable members opposite must sign a pledge of loyalty to the amended policy of the party. In other words, they must pledge their loyalty to an outside organization. Even the honorable member for Melbourne will have to sign the pledge.
– I have signed it.
– Despite the public meeting at Fitzroy where the honorable member achieved some prominence, he is now a conscriptionist.
– I am not.
– Unless I am mistaken, the honorable member will vote for the bill, the principle of which is conscription. Is it not strange that on a vital matter of war policy honorable members opposite should sign a pledge of loyalty to an outside organization? Last December, the use of the Citizen Military Forces beyond the territories of the Commonwealth was a forbidden subject in the Labour party’s room. The elected representatives of the people were not permitted to discuss it before their trade union bosses had given their decision. Those marionettes will dance to any tune that the conference plays. Honorable members opposite pledged themselves to resist any attempts to introduce conscription into Australia, but all of them will vote for the bill, which represents a substantial departure from what is described as the “ traditional policy of Australia “. I am gratified to see that this so-called “ traditional policy “ will be altered. This Parliament must be supreme in the Commonwealth, otherwise we shall not have democracy. The leader who will guide the destinies of this nation must originate his policies, not at the dictation of an outside organization, but in this Parliament. Not until we have evidence of such leadership shall we obtain that close unity which is now so necessary. Not until then will complacency disappear.
Although this bill has had a mixed reception, it embodies a great principle, namely, conscription for overseas service. Whether the confines in which the troops will serve are broad or narrow, the important fact is that Australia will now conscript men for service outside Australia, and that is conscription for service overseas. On that principle, all parties in this chamber are united. The Labour party has taken a big step forward since 1939, when it opposed a move to conscript men for service in the territories of the Commonwealth. A good deal of the significance of the bill will be lost on our friends in England and the United States of America, but Australians themselves realize that the measure represents important progress. Although most honorable members agree ‘ on the principles underlying the bill, they violently disagree on the zone in which the Citizen Military Forces may serve. The imposition of such a limit will be to the everlasting discredit of the Government, because our sister dominion of New Zealand is not included in the zone. New Zealand forces have spheres of interests in the Pacific, just as have Australian forces, but the Citizen Military Forces, under this legislation, cannotbe sent to the rescue or assistance of New Zealand or American forces. In December, 1941, the Prime Minister appealed to the President of the United States of America for assistance. Some Australians considered that the appeal was a squeal, but it is undeniable that we did appeal for aid. If the truth were known, we appealed when American forces were actually on their way to Australia. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) clarified that position in a speech in this chamber when he informed honorable members that Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt determined certain spheres of influence, and that the British would accept the main share of the responsibility for the Atlantic and the Middle East, and that the United States of America would be responsible, for geographical reasons, for the Pacific. I suspect that the appeals were made with the knowledge that the United States of America was despatching help. But the main fact to be borne in mind is that we did appeal to America.
Mir. Calwell. - We had a right to appeal.
– We appealed all the more readily because we had never regarded the Americans as aliens. We have always considered them as friends or almost cousins. Closely following the appeal, American conscripts arrived in Australia, and shortly afterwards General Douglas MacArthur was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Pacific Area. After the American forces had played a tremendous part in beating back the Japanese hordes, the Prime Minister announced the intention of his Government to introduce this very limited measure of conscription. Does not that make every Australian blush? There is no doubt in my mind, and leakages from the conference of the Australian Labour party confirm this view, that the Prime Minister sought authority to define a much larger zone in which the Citizen Military Forces would operate. I can imagine the right honorable gentleman in conversation with General MacArthur. He would acknowledge the great assistance received from America, but explain apologetically that the union bosses would not permit him to introduce legislation to permit the Citizen Military Forces to be used in a campaignto expel the Japanese from the Philippines. Australia is thereby placed in an ignominious situation.
There is another matter. If the Allies are to defeat Japan, Australian forces will have to push northwards. If we are to play our part in rescuing the Australians who are held captive in the jungles of Malaya, we shall require our entire military strength, and not merely the section of the forces confined to volunteers. General MacArthur spoke truly when he said that “ this business of island hopping in the Pacific will never win the war “. Whilst I am not a strategist, I consider that Japan can be defeated by attacks launched from China. If Australia wishes to be in at the “kill”, in the typical Australian spirit, we shall require for the campaign every physically fit man. It should not be left to a comparatively few soldiers to fight the Japanese time after time.
The Opposition realizes that as this bill affirms the principle of conscription for overseas service it brings all the parties in this Parliament into line on a most important issue. I do not agree with the limits imposed by the bill. I do not think it can be said that we are unswervingly loyal to our Allies until we remove these limits. I do not suppose that any one would suggest that Australian troops should be sent anywhere at this juncture; but as a responsible partner in the allied nations cause Australia should not shirk its responsibilities. However, I shall not do anything to defeat the bill. It appears to me that if the Opposition attempts to amend the bill against the wishes of the Government it must face the alternative of losing the bill or of fighting an election - in the one case gaining nothing; in the other case, delay as now. I shall not do anything, therefore, to delay the passage of the measure, particularly as the Prime Minister has said on several occasions that General MacArthur urgently needs more troops.
– The honorable gentleman told us nearly four years ago that he was prepared to go overseas.
– The Government has full power to remove all obstacles to such service, and I challenge them to do so. No honorable member can throw anything up at me. Because I believe that it is urgently necessary that the Australian
Militia shall be made available to General MacArthur without delay I shall offer no obstacle to the passage of the measure. I agree with the observations of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) this afternoon concerning the injustice of obliging members of the Australian Imperial Force to go into battle two or three times without adequate rest. This also shows how necessary it is that this bill shall be passed at once. But the Government need not imagine for a moment that the Opposition will be content to let the matter rest where it is. “We shall not rest until all limitations have been removed. Sooner or later this measure will come before the bar of public opinion and I have no doubt about what the decision of the public will be; but because the principle of conscription for overseas service is affirmed in the bill, and because there is urgent need to place additional troops at the disposal of General MacArthur, I shall vote for it. I hope that the day is not far distant when the limitations in our Defence Act in relation to the use of Australian troops overseas will be removed and Australia will again stand with true dignity among the allied nations.
.- I have only a .few observations to make on this remarkable bill. I have been a conscriptionist throughout my adult life. I consider that when a nation is attacked by a foreign power it must defend itself by all-in methods. I cannot understand how any sincere conscriptionist can support any other than an all-in policy in relation to man-power, wealth, and everything else. I have been proud of the Prime Minister in recent months because of some of the statements he has made. I agreed with the right honorable gentleman when he said not long ago to certain members of his party that he found himself in an absolutely ridiculous position. In my opinion, nothing short of the full use of all our man-power and material resources will meet the needs of the case. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) referred in touching phrases to-day to his son at the front. I also have sons in the forces. I therefore can quite understand why the limited dose of conscription measured out in this bill is totally inadequate. In a global war we should use the whole of our resources and we should apply total conscription. In a statement which he made in relation to the launching of the recent £100,000,000 austerity loan the Prime Minister used words which I think could be set alongside some of the finest words of Mr. Churchill and other great leaders. I would even place them besides Kipling’s “If”. The right honorable gentleman said -
Here is the pledge which I ask every Australian to take - We shall make of our nation two complete fighting armies - the fighting forces to smash their way back through New Guinea, Java, Malaya, the Philippines and on to Japan; and the working forces that will back them to the limit in mine, factory and workshop.
If the Prime Minister considers that he can go back on those words now I do not consider that I can do so. If the right honorable gentleman goes back on them I do not believe that he will find the people of Australia so ready , to contribute to the next £100,000,000 loan. I stand by what the Prime Minister said on that occasion, and I am glad that the members of the Labour party in Western Australia have also stood by it. I should like the Prime Minister to call upon the people to reaffirm that pledge, for I believe that it can be backed by unassailable logic. .If the Prime Minister believes that he can now retreat from his pledge I do not feel that way. There 13 no escape from the logic of complete and unlimited conscription. If the Prime Minister is true to himself he will be found among those who support the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). If it should be defeated the right honorable gentleman should join those who intend to support the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles). We should not mince matters at this stage, nor should we make two bites at a cherry. I should like the Prime Minister himself to introduce an amendment to this measure which would make it practicable for our armed forces to fight right to the shores of Japan as one army.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie
Cameron). We should have one army and it should be available for service anywhere in defence of Australia. The conditions under which this war is being fought are entirely different from those in which the war of 1914-18 was fought. Australia was not in imminent danger of invasion at any time during the 1914-18 war, but shortly after the Curtin Government assumed office, Japan entered the war, and this country at once became liable to invasion. We all remember that even while negotiations were proceeding between the United States of America and Japan the Japanese struck a most unscrupulous blow at Pearl Harbour. I propose briefly to trace the progress of the war waged by Japan since that time. I do so with particular interest for I have visited all the countries which Japan has since conquered, except Burma and IndoChina. A few weeks after their attack on Pearl Harbour Japanese forces attacked the Philippines. We shall always speak with pride of the magnificent resistance offered to the Japanese by General Douglas MacArthur, but it was unavailing. The Japanese then entered Indo-China and, not long afterwards, gained Malaya arid Singapore, where there are many thousands of Australian prisoners. Before long Java and Borneo fell. I expected a much stronger resistance in Java. I thought the forces there would be able to hold out for some months at least. The next move was to Bali. Japan suffered severe losses on the sea, yet the taking of that island occupied only a matter of days. Thence it moved to Macassar, which was easily conquered. Most of the countries I have mentioned are jungle territories. They were not fortified, and had no nian-power to protect them. Therefore, the conquest of them was not a great achievement. But they meant much to Japan subsequently. It then moved on to Dutch West Borneo and seized the capital, Pontianak, without any difficulty. If my memory serves me right, Pontianak had a bank, two hotels, a few government buildings, and approximately 8 miles of roads, to construct which excavations were made to a depth of about 8 feet and filled with coco-nut husks. What I saw of Dutch West Borneo was jungle country.
Transport was wholly by water, and the population consisted chiefly of Dyaks, a small race resembling the Japanes in appearance. No doubt the Japanese fortified the place, and their removal from it will be a tremendous job. We have read of their entry into Timor, where some of our men are still putting up a brave fight under hard conditions. They then proceeded to New Guinea. I am very well acquainted with most of the places that they hold to-day. It is essential thatPort Moresby shall be held by Australia. Honorable members know of the wonderful fight that the Australians, with the assistance of the Americans, have put up against the Japanese who landed on the eastern side of the Owen Stanley Range and attempted to reach Port Moresby. They are aware of what the cost has been, in men and material, to free that area of the enemy. The achievement has been remarkable. It must be borne in mind, however, that we have a population of only 7,000,000, whereas that of Japan is closer to 80,000,000. If it came to a irian-to-man struggle in the jungle country that I have mentioned, not one year or two years, but possibly more than 100 years would be needed to shift them. In my opinion, Japan must be beaten in Japan, through China.
I strongly support the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), because I consider that all our forces should be in one army and should be eligible to fight wherever our American allies are fighting to-day. 1 admit that when Japan entered the war Australia was deplorably unprepared to offer any great resistance. An appeal for assistance was made to America, which responded quickly and well with men and material. At present, our Australian Imperial Force and the Militia may fight side by side with Americans in Australia and Papua - which practically belongs to the Commonwealth - but the Militia cannot go to Rabaul, Salamaua, Lae, or any of the other places which Japan has taken. The bill provides that they may go merely a short distance, including a portion only of Java. Thousands of Australians are prisoners in Singapore, yet the Militia may not be sent there. I am horrified to find, also, that if our sister dominion of New Zealand ware attacked we could not send our Militia to help it. I believe that, prior to November, the Prime Minister honestly intended that the bill should make provision for a wider area; but his proposal was rejected by his masters in the Australian Labour party. Honorable members were invited to view a certain map giving an outline of the area that was to be embraced by the bill, and I say emphatically that we were misled. According to the map, the Militia could be ‘sent to New Zealand and even to Indo-China. When we studied the bill, we found that the Militia could be sent practically nowhere. We waited months for the decision of the Australian Labour party. I believe that the Prime Minister was approached by the High Command, and was asked to do as had been done by our Allies, whose soldiers are conscripts and have come thousands of miles to help us. I am of the opinion that when the matter was put to the right honorable gentleman he honestly intended that the Militia should fight side by side with Americans wherever they might go. If the amendment of the honorable member for Barker were carried, I am satisfied that the people would stand solidly behind what it proposes. They will be very dissatisfied with this proposal. There is hardly a home in the whole of Australia which has not some representative in this war. What will the soldiers and their relatives think of us as legislators when we confine the proposal to a small area to the north of Australia? Those who arc fighting together to-day will be disorganized. If they enter Java, after reaching a certain point our American friends and the Australian Imperial Force will be permitted to advance whilst the Militia will have to remain where they are. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) said last week that it had come to his knowledge that a member of the Australian Imperial Force who had been wounded on three occasions had been returned to the battle-front for the fourth time. This shows conclusively that there are not sufficient men in the Australian Imperial Force.
T support the amendment in the belief that I am doing what is right. If it came to an election show-down and meant my defeat, I would face it willingly, knowing that I am doing what the people of Australia expect me to do.
– Before this bill was submitted to Parliament, I was optimistic enough to believe that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) intended to adopt as the area outside Australia in which the Citizen Military Forces may operate the identical area over which General MacArthur has supreme command. When I had the privilege of viewing a map which we were invited to inspect, I believed that it showed the limits to be proposed in the bill. Not being addicted to reading Mr. Lang’s journal, New Century, or to believing it if . I should read it, I was almost prepared to give to the Prime Minister full credit for having taken a very long stride, even though it fell short of the goal of one army for Australia. But with the tabling of the bill came disillusionment, keen disappointment, and even a sense of shame that we, whose Prime Minister had called upon a great democratic ally for help, an ally which unrestrictedly conscripts its freedomloving citizens in order to provide that help, should fall in any way short of its standards of national self-sacrifice. I question whether the Prime Minister is satisfied with the restriction of area imposed by the bill. I believe that therein lies some hope for the future. Even if one tries, for a moment, to view the proposed limitations through the spectacles of the party opposite, so far as that may be possible, the limits chosen are very hard to explain. The only direction in which the Citizen Military Forces appear to have real freedom of movement is south to the whaling grounds of the Antarctic; to the north, the fence is the Equator, to the east the 159th meridian, and to the west the 110th meridian. I have been puzzled by that western boundary more than by any of the others. It cannot be merely the choice of a nice round figure, such as might have been expected to be made by a Government that is dealing regularly in hundreds of millions, because on the “eastward side we are confronted with the 159th meridian, which has nothing very round about it. Had the 105th meridian been taken instead, it would have made one “bite” of Java, that great fertile island lying a few hundred miles to the north-west of us, instead of bisecting Java and repeating there the Gilbertian situation which we have in New Guinea, where, if the Militia troops chase the Japanese up to a certain point, they must then stand aside and allow the Australian Imperial Force to continue the pursuit. However, despite the restrictions still imposed in this bill on the use of the Militia, I do not propose to belittle unfairly the progress that has been made by the Prime Minister and certain other honorable members on the Government side. It has been a sort of “ Pilgrim’s Progress “, slow, painful, and sometimes unwilling, the inescapable result of the inexorable progress of the war. I think it may fairly be said of the present Government, and some of its supporters, that they have reached the various stages of their Pilgrim’s Progress, always a year or two after members on this side of the House. One does rot need to go back 27 years, as some have done, in order to contrast the speeches and actions of the Prime Minister in 1916 with his speeches and actions of 1943. I would not condemn any man for what he said 27 years ago, provided he has since made amends for his earlier mistakes. We need go back only a very little way to note the most startling changes in the opinions of the Prime Minister and certain honorable members opposite, changes forced upon them step by step, by the progress of the war.
In order to measure the distance that has been travelled, it is necessary only to recall the strong opposition shown by them even to compulsory training for home defence, and that since the war broke out, and their continual opposition to the spending, by previous governments, of relatively insignificant sums on preparations for defence. We need only recall their opposition to the sending abroad of any expeditionary force, and the complete refusal on the part of at least some honorable members opposite to see any threat to this country from Japan. All these things show how far, even though slowly, painfully and unwillingly, members of the Government and certain of their supporters have travelled even to the point reached in this bill.
In the light of their so recent political history, it ill becomes the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and some of his colleagues to boast of the progress that has been made in the growth of the Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force and in the production of munitions during their short term of office, as if “ alone they did it “. In their hearts they know, and all but the most feebleminded of their supporters also know, that they are to-day reaping the harvest made possible by the spade work of previous governments, which were endowed with foresight when many honorable members opposite suffered from cataract of the eyes, the film of which has only recently been removed.
Let us try to be fair with each other. Let us freely admit, as I for one admit, that very great progress has been made during the last twelve months, but let us also admit that it was made on the solid foundations laid by previous governments. Let us freely admit, and take pride in so doing, that our Air Force has grown amazingly in the last twelve months, and that this is the harvest of the Empire Air Training Scheme, to which so great a contribution was made by the late James Fairbairn. And let us also admit, on both sides of the House, that the progress made in the last twelve months has been stimulated beyond measure by the war being brought to our own door by Japan. Prior to that, some honorable members opposite, including some who are now Ministers, thought and spoke and acted as if Australia was not involved in any war in which we were partly interested. May I add that, when the very vocal Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) spreads himself in a self-satisfied review of Australia’s growing aircraft output, he should pause to remember that it was the Lyons Government which, more than two years before the outbreak of war, brought about the establishment of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, without which these results could never have been possible.
If the progress made by the Prime Minister and the Government were to be measured merely by the area confined within the meridians mentioned, with the Equator a3 the northern boundary, one would find it easier to condemn than to commend them ; but if we measure this bill solely in terms of mileage, we shall do it less than justice. The Prime Minister and his colleagues, formerly dyed-in-the-wpp; anti-conscriptionists, have, in this bill, renounced their lifelong creed. They have crossed the Rubicon. They have indicated their belief that men should be sent compulsorily to foreign soil the better to defend this country. They have made indisputable progress, step by step, from the point from which they viewed the landscape through dark glasses a couple of years ago. Their glasses are no longer quite so darkly tinted. They can see more clearly ; they can walk better, and the stride taken in this bill is easily their longest yet. When we compare the point from which they started with that reached in the bill, who would expect them now to remain static? Last Friday, the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) said that the bill did not prejudice future consideration by Parliament of a variation of the boundaries, or words to that effect, and the Prime Minister, in his opening speech, conveyed the same idea. So did the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), in his speech this afternoon, and there was no doubt regarding his manner of saying it. He even said that, with the passage of this bill, the last bastions of the anti-conscriptionists would be lost; and that in no time the whole of the area within General MacArthur’s command would be included in the area within which members of the Militia could be required to serve.
Despite its present territorial limitations, I shall grasp this bill with both hands. I have the greatest sympathy with the opinions expressed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), but I cannot support an amendment which proposes to withdraw the bill, and which, if successful, would probably result in the loss of the measure. That risk is too great, for us to take to-day, having regard to all the circumstances surrounding the introduction of this bill. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) argued this evening that we should grasp at complete and unrestricted conscription, that we should not seek to attain our ends step by step. Let me use an illustration which is not intended in any way to be disrespectful to the honorable member, or to those who think as he does. In a part of South America young monkeys are a part of the diet of human beings, and they are caught in this way: A hole is cut in a large gourd, the hole being just large enough for the monkey to insert its hand; then the gourd is filled with nuts and placed where the monkeys have . access to it. A monkey put its hand into the gourd to take the nuts, and if it were content to take out a moderate handful, it could do so and get away. The monkey, however, is not satisfield with that; it tries to grasp a large handful, with the result that it is unable to withdraw its hand. It loses the prize, it loses its liberty, and eventually loses its life. I think that we can learn something from that. Let us make sure of passing this bill, despite its limitations, . regarding it as a statutory acceptance by many recent converts of the principle of compulsory military service overseas in defence of Australia. Then let us, when the time comes, build further on the foundations laid in this measure when it is secure on the statute-book.
.- In considering this measure, my chief concern is that we should, at the earliest possible moment place this country in a position where it can support adequately those of our sons who are to-day saving Australia from invasion. I have given serious consideration to the bill, to the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and to the proposed amendments of the honorable- member for Plenty (Mr. Coles) and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). Whilst I believe that there should be no territorial limitations on the right to use the Militia, our first duty to-day is to enable the Government, at the earliest possible moment, adequately to reinforce our fighting men. I have listened to many honorable members discussing this measure, and it seems to me that they have very exalted ideas of the part which they are playing in the war. Let me remind them that those who are saving Australia from invasion to-day are not the members of this Parliament, but the young men who have gone forth to meet the enemy, and to give their lives if need be, in defence of their country. If I thought that it was practicable for us to support the proposal of the honorable member for Barker or that of the honorable member for Henty, I should wholeheartedly do so, but we must remember that we are at war, and it is necessary that we be realists.
– Another jib!
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) should be the very last to talk about jibs. The most despicable thing that a member of Parliament can do is to criticize his leader publicly, to second an amendment in opposition to the policy of his party, and then to crawl out of it, yet that is what the honorable member for Melbourne has done. I suggest that if he calmly considers the part which he has played in connexion with this matter he will realize that he has very little of which to ‘be proud.
– I am. still an anti.conscriptionist.
– Yes. It is clear that both the amendment of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and the referendum proposed by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) would mean delay. How could we hope to fight foes like the Japanese and the Germans, who act first and talk afterwards, if we have to hold a referendum to decide where we shall fight? The honorable member for Bourke compared Australia and Canada, but Canada is in a much happier position than is Australia, which has the foe hammering at the door. So serious is this war that the whole su’bject of conscription must be considered by the Government and by Parliament. Some families are being bled white while others are entirely escaping their obligations to fight for king and country. Those who are fortunate enough to return from the war with unimpaired health will find themselves at a disadvantage compared with those who have remained behind. The burden of defence must be equitably distributed over the whole population. Every aspect of conscription must therefore be considered.
– What has this to do with this bill?
– A lot.
– The honorable member wants to take every body out of the munitions industry.
– No. I emphasize that this bill establishes the principle of conscription for service overseas. The Prime Minister and the Government realize that it is only the first instalment. The Government will have no alternative but, as circumstances demand, extend the area in which the conscripted troops may be required to serve. How could we hope to rescue our troops who are held prisoners of war by Japan in countries outside the area prescribed, by this bill if we did not allow our troops to go outside that area? Are we to say to them, “ We forsake you ; we abandon you to your cruel fate. You must look to some other power to rescue you “. No Australian government would dare to say that, and, therefore, the time will come soon, I hope, when Parliament will be asked to widen the narrow boundaries set by this measure to the zone beyond Australia and its territories to which the Militia may be sent. In considering this matter we must take a wider view than the isolationist Australian view. We must look at it from the point of view of our allies. Australia must be prepared to act in full concert with the United Nations. An isolationist policy would place Australia at the mercy of any power that cared to invade it. How can honorable members opposite say in the same voice that we should not send men outside Australia, and that other countries should send men here to fight our battles?
– Does the honorable member suggest that Australia should fight Japan unaided?
– No sane person would suggest that, but when we look to the United States of America, Great Britain and our other allies for conscripted help we should be ready to do our share.
– Not all the American troops in this country are conscripts, and we did not ask for conscripts.
– The honorable member for Melbourne cannot expect other countries to fight our battle unless we reciprocate and carry our share of the burden.
– Have we not always done that?
– We have. Australia has been one of the favoured countries of the world. No enemy has invaded our shores. Why? Because we have fought our battles in other parts of the world. I have always contended that it is better for Australia to meet its foes overseas than to wait for them here.
– We nearly slipped this time because we had all our men away, and the honorable member’s party opposed bringing them back.
– Nothing of the kind.I remind the honorable member for Wannon that the Prime Minister and leading Ministers have paid high tributes to the Australian Imperial Force and expressed gratitude for the fact that we had these trained men to bring back from Egypt.
– The United Australia party opposed bringing them back.
– Not on your life! I hope I shall be pardoned for introducing a personal note into this debate, in saying that one of my sons was brought back from Egypt and was immediately sent into action in New Guinea because he was a trained soldier. I remind honorable gentlemen opposite that we have been saved from the horrors of invasion by the heroic deeds of the Australian Imperial Force, the Air Force, and the Navy. It is our bounden duty to do all we can to support them. The Prime Minister has made it clear that unless we pass this measure it will be impossible to supplement the troops in New Guinea and in other battle areas.
– That is all rubbish.
– The honorable member would he less inclined to make that interjection if he himself were in New Guinea or had sons there. When we conscript our men to fight our battles, it is our duty to ensure that they shall receive first consideration.
– When they come back!
– No, while they are away. Never in the history of this country were the rank and file in a better position financially than they are to-day. I am not debating whether those conditions should be as good as they are, but a country which can afford them for the civil population can equally afford them for those who are staving off invasion. I emphasize that, because I believe that so far we have been apt to forget our men once they have left this country.
I speak with mixed feelings on this subject. I should willingly vote for the amendment moved by the honorablemember for Barker if it were a practical possibility to achieve anything by it. It would be the popular thing to vote for it, but I realize that it is not a practical step to take.
– Another sham fighter !
Mr. Archie Cameron. - On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to know whether the Government Whip is in order in continually interjecting from the treasury bench. I shall have to revise my attitude towards the Government if he is to be one of the Ministers.
– The point of order is upheld. The Government Whip would be disorderly if he interjected from any seat.
– This measure does not provide all I desire, but it is the first step.
– And the last step, too !
– It will notbe the last step, for I am sure that before long the Government will find itself compelled to take the second step.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Spender) adjourned.
Order of Business - Australian Troops in Malaya: Statement by Mr. G. P. Evans - Maltreatment by Military Police - Richmond Abattoirs - Liverpool Press: Exploitation of Relatives of Deceased Soldiers - Sydney “Daily Telegraph” and Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill - Labour for Harvesting Fruit Crops - Wheat: Costs of Storage.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Two notices of motion, in the name of private members, are set down for consideration to-morrow afternoon. As I have agreed to the adjournment of the debate on the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Bill at this comparatively early hour in order to meet the convenience of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), I ask the Opposition to consent to the postponement of the consideration of the notices of motion,, so as to allow the House to proceed without delay with the debate on this most important measure. I assure the House that an opportunity will be provided subsequently for a discussion of private- members’ business.
– Next week?
– As early as possible, but I cannot at this stage name a definite day.
.- I bring to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) the report of a speech delivered by Mr. G. P. Evans, a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and published in the West Wyalong Advocate, concerning the position of Australian troops in Singapore. He said -
About 16.000 to 1T,000 of our boys are prisoners in Japan or some part of the territory occupied by Japan. It had been said that prisoners who were taken at Singapore had, it was generally believed, been taken owing to the fault of the British Government. “ Let me disabuse your minds at once and for all,” said Mr. Evans. “It was owing to the fault of the Federal Government. Mr. Churchill had the ships ready to evacuate all of our boys, but Mr. Curtin said that Singapore was to be held at any cost. At the present time we are apt to blame Britain, but if those critics know what Britain has done to save her Empire, they would not be so prone to blame her.
Mr. Evans has done a grave disservice to Australia in suggesting that this Government is to blame for the capture of Australian troops in Singapore, and his attempt to relate criticism which may have been wrongly directed against Great Britain to the fall of Singapore was an act of fifth columnism. I ask the Prime Minister to examine this newspaper, and to make a statement for the purpose of putting the position beyond all possibility of distortion, in the future, because it is perfectly obvious that people like Mr. Evans, who is a member of the United Country party, are deliberately disseminating propaganda of this nature for electioneering purposes. The plight of our unfortunate prisoners in Singapore is bad enough, but in the words of a former Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) it is “ playing the diabolical game of politics “ to suggest that these men were deserted by the Commonwealth Government. I do not believe for a moment that the ships were ready to evacuate the soldiers, or that the Prime Minister declared that the troops must remain on the island as Singapore had to be held at all costs.
The president of the Eaglehawk branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. A. H. De Grandi, has forwarded to me letters from Mr. J. Laurie, honorary secretary of No. 27 district board of the organization, and Mr. M. Bourke, a member of the executive of the Bendigo branch, in reference to maltreatment of soldiers by members of the military police at Bendigo. One of the victims was Private R. H. Wymers, who, according to his own statement, received severe punishment at the hands of the military police when he was arrested last January. His statement reads -
On the evening of the 28th January, at 7.30 p.m., after a fight between soldiers in Munday-street, Bendigo, the Provost came on the scene and I had left the fight and crossed the street.
One Provost police came across and said to me, “ You are coming with us “. I said, “What for?” and he replied, “You will soon know what for “. I went with him ; he started to push me along and I said to him, “There is no need for this, as I am going along with you “. He then threw me to the ground and handcuffed me. I was placed in the truck and taken to the Provost head-quarters in Barnett-street.
I was taken to a room and told to stand to attention. Given the command “ Eyes right I obeyed the orders, and was hit from the side by a closed fist, hit on the jaw just under the ear. Was then given the command “ Attention “, “ Eyes front “ and “ Stand at ease “. The provost made a joke and laughed at me. I objected to being laughed at for obeying orders correctly. I was then punched on the jaw again. He said, “ You can take it can’t you 1 “ and I replied, “ Yes and give it too “. He then said, “ Come outside, I have a set of boxing gloves, I will see how good you are “. He took me by the arm and led me out of the passage to a doorway. On going through the doorway I was struck on the head and rabbit-punched. I fell down and then he kicked me and dragged me into the hall again, kicked me in the throat, and trod on my hand and left me.
– Is he still alive?
– Yes. The statement continues -
In the hall I was attacked by another Provost in the presence of the second one. I was picked up and taken to the orderly room. On entering the door I was punched about the eye and knocked down into a corner. Then two of them sat me on a stool and I was knocked down again. They acted like maniacs. I wandered out into the street in a dazed condition and called for the police. I was dragged back again. They washed my face and I was taken back to camp in a truck.
This statement is verified by Mr. Bourke. The soldier was not charged on that day with having committed any offence. Later he was court martialed, but was found not guilty on all charges. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) should order a “ clean up “ of the military police, some of whom obviously, from this document, are better fitted to be members of the Gestapo than they are to keep order as members of the Australian Military Forces. Of course, not all military policemen behave in that manner, but in some cases power has gone to the heads of men dressed in a little brief authority. I invite the Minister to make a statement to the House as to the methods by which he proposes to restrain the fighting capacity of some members of the military police who have not seen service outside Australia, but who are exercising themselves upon soldiers returned from active service overseas.
I have received a letter from the secretary of the Australian Saddlery, Leather, Sail, Canvas, Tanning, Leather Dressing, and Allied Workers Trades Employees Federation, Councillor W. Ryan, who is also a municipal councillor at Richmond, Victoria, directing attention to certain happenings at the abattoirs controlled by Richmond City Council. In this letter, it is alleged that sheep which are totally unfit for human consumption are being killed for canning for the military forces. Reports which have since been verified by officers and employees of the council, indicate that scores of sheep are dying in the stockyards at Richmond, and up to 40 head have been burned in one day in the fires at the destructor. The sheep are described as the worst class of what are known in the trade as “ crackers “, namely, old, broken-down sheep. The practice, which has evidently gone on for some months, was discovered accidentally by the town clerk and councillors. I hope that the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will take immediate action to ensure that our troops shall be supplied with meat fit for human consumption.
– I urge the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to take action to prevent an attempt to exploit in the most ghoulish fashion the sorrows and miseries of relatives of deceased soldiers. I have here a letter sent to the mother of a deceased soldier in the Dungog district of New South Wales by the Liverpool Press, 243 Collins-street, Melbourne. It reads -
The above name has been handed to us aa being worthy of inclusion in an historical work which we now have in the course of preparation.
During the present conflict, certain men have stood out in clear perspective for their GALLANTRY and DEVOTION TO DUTY. That their actions in this direction have not always come under the notice of the Authorities by no means minimizes the importance of their position.
We believe that the above man belongs to this group and it is our desire to honor him as such.
The work to which we refer, “ AUSTRALIA IN ACTION “, will form a Comprehensive and Authoritative History of our Fighting Forces.
We desire to record certain particulars of thisman on the HONOR ROLL Section of his Unit and in order to ensure that the information we have in this office is correct we are enclosing a form which we would be pleased if you would complete and return to us without delay. “AUSTRALIA IN ACTION” is to be published in two volumes. Printed on high-grade paper and in a binding worthy of its title, it will not only serve as a permanent and fitting Memorial to the men whose names are included therein, but it will also act as an informative reminder to others.
A SPECIAL PRESENTATION copy of each volume will be posted to you immediately on its publication.
As Volume 1, containing the report of the action which led to the death of the above man is nownearing completion, we would be indeed grateful if you would letus have the particulars asked for by return.
In conclusion, we have to state that, owing to the enormous cost of producing a Work of this nature, we are compelled to ask you for a fee of £1 10s. for the service rendered.
We wouldbe glad therefore if you would include a remittance for this amount in your return letter to us.
The form enclosed with the letter read as follows: -
To the Manager,
Box 1593p, G.P.O., Melbourne.
Please note the following particularsas desired by you : -
Decorations (if any)
Any Particulars you may hold regarding Nature of Death (this is Important).
The above particulars are to the best of my knowledge and belief correct,and I authorize you to draw on same in the compilation of the work you have in hand, and I attach a remittance for the sum of £1 10s. on the understanding that you will post me a Presentation Copy of each volume of “ Australia in Action “ immediately on its publication.
The issuing of this letter by the person who signs himself “ C. W. Thornton, Manager, Liverpool Press “, is a disgraceful action. The letter is an attempt to exploit the sorrows of parents whose sons have been killed in the war. In my opinion, the statement that the first volume to be published is almost ready for issue is a lie. It is probable that similar letters are being sent to the parents of every deceased soldier irrespective of the circumstances attendant upon his death. The Government should take immediate action to prevent the operation of such ghouls as this man Thornton obviously is, and I hope that it will do so.
– I wish to refer to a cartoon that was published on the first page of the Sydney DailyTelegraph of Saturday last. This was referred to during question time in the House to-day, but I bring it under notice again because I feel very keenly about it. I consider that the Parliament should take some steps to prevent the publication of such cartoons in the future. The person responsible for this publication clearly has no conscience. There is depicted in the cartoon a coffin which bears the following inscription: -
Australia’s honor, prestige and future, and the 10,286 soldiers in Malaya.
The suggestion is that honorable members of this Parliament do not care what happens to those men. Whatever may be our political opinions, I am confident that every one of us is deeply concerned about the welfare of the men who are held as prisoners in Malaya, and the suggestion in thecartoon that the Parliament and Government intend to “ dump “ them is totally false. I have many good friends in internment camps in Australia and I am positive that many of them have been interned for much less heinous offences than the publication of this vile cartoon. I do not know why the Government permits the continued publication of this journal. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that he can “ take it “. So can I “ take it “ ; but I am concerned because the political harlots of Mammon, who are behind this newspaper, are allowed to continue their disgraceful work. The owners of this newspaper, Theodore, Packer and, probably, if we could get to the bottom of it, W. J. Smith - if they agree with this attack - are not fit to be engaged in the public service of this country. They should be placed in the internment camps where numbers of my friends are for much less serious offences. This is a horrible cartoon - a vile and filthy thing. There is not a member of this Parliament who is not deeply anxious about the welfare of our men who are held prisoner by the Japanese or any other power, and
I urge the Prime Minister to take some definite action to suppress this newspaper and to deal in an appropriate way with those responsible for the writing and publication of the article to which I have objected. This filthy and contemptible cartoon and the scurrilous article which appears on the same page are a disgrace to the press, and those responsible for them should be placed in internment camps for the duration of the war. This would give them a muchneeded opportunity to think over the need to mend their ways. When the editorinchief of this paper was arrested on a certain charge he gave his name as McNally. When he appeared before the court, it was admitted that the name was McNulty. The charge preferred against him is only a degree less filthy than this cartoon.
.- As the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) is in the chamber, I take the opportunity to bring to his notice an urgent problem involving the current canned fruits pack in the Goulburn “Valley of Victoria. By far the greater proportion of the canning fruits in Australia is grown and packed in this area, and, as there is an urgent need that all the fresh fruit and vegetables available for canning shall be handled without loss, I am confident that my representations will be sympathetically considered. Many growers in this area are in dire straits because they cannot obtain the labour necessary to pick and process the fruit. At present the growers are in the final stages of picking the crop of canning pears. I have been informed by the secretary of ‘the Northern Canned Fruitgrowers Association, which organization includes about 99 per cent. of the growers of canning fruit in the Goulburn Valley, that about 25 per cent. of the pear crop has been lost this year for canning purposes, owing to labour shortages. Within the next couple of weeks the mid-season peach crop will be ready for canning. I am informed that an acute shortage of labour exists at this very moment, and that the labour for the peach crop is causing very great anxiety. The Minister for ‘Supply and Shipping will not need me to emphasize the importance of obtaining a maximum pack of fruit and vegetables, but if this is to be assured, every effort must be made to organize labour for picking and processing the fruit. I acknowledge the extreme difficulty of the situation, and I” have not the slightest intention to impute any negligence on the part of the Government. In order to emphasize the acuteness of the difficulties, I point out that in one small area at Ardmona a request was made for 2S9 additional persons to pick the pear crop, but, at the conclusion of the picking, the growers were still 166 pickers short of the required number. It is no exaggeration to describe the canneries to which I refer as great canneries, for the Shepparton cannery is by far the greatest in the British Empire. Two other canneries in the district process, between them, more fruit than is processed at Shepparton. The smallest of these two required 250 additional women to assist in the processing cf the fruit, but, at an advanced stage of its operations, it had not been able to get one additional employee.
I may be asked for constructive suggestions. I realize the great difficulties that have to be faced. Organized boy labour has been used, but it has proved quite inadequate and not very satisfactory. As might be expected, the adult male labour available for seasonal work of this kind is inconsiderable because of the military call-up, aud such additional labour of the kind as has been obtained has proved to be inexperienced and insufficient. The only constructive suggestion that I am able to offer is that consideration be given to the possibility of divertbig temporarily to this work, some experienced members of the armed forces who are not at the moment engaged on important and urgent military duties. I do not suggest that men should be diverted from military duties simply to work in orchards; but it seems to me that there should be some suitable “ B “ class men who could be detailed fortemporary work in the Shepparton factories. There is an Air Force recruit depot at Shepparton. Possibly some men could be made available from it for this important work. I hope that immediate consideration will be given by the Minister to this problem.
.- I wish to refer to the inadequacy of the labour available from any sources except the armed forces for harvesting the dried vine crops of Australia. I have special knowledge of the position in the River Murray areas in Victoria, where the bulk of the Australian dried vine crops are grown. The shortage of labour is acute at Mildura, Swan Hill, and at other centres in the Murray Valley. All the available voluntary labour has been organized as effectively as possible, but it is totally inadequate to deal with the crop. Unless steps be taken promptly to meet the situation, a considerable proportion of the crop will be lost. I therefore appeal to the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) to consult with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), in order to see whether some members from the armed forces can be made available for this work. The matter is causing the most acute concern to growers, who have a personal responsibility and. are depending upon the returns from their crops in order that they may meet their commitments. The loss of this very valuable product, which has been given a high priority and is used extensively for the feeding of our forces as well as for export to Great Britain and our Allies, would be a national calamity. I trust that the Minister will acquaint himself with the facts of the case, and do all that he can to relieve the position.
Repeatedly, conferences of wheatgrowers have asked the Government to accept a portion of the responsibility for the costs incurred in the prolonged periods during which wheat is stored in Australia until it may be shipped or otherwise marketed. Honorable members know that a big surplus of wheat is held in this country. A new harvest has just been gathered. I take it that production will proceed on similar lines this year, although there may be some contraction of the area sown. A substantial quantity of wheat is accumulating. I ask the Government: Is it fair to expect the growers to bear the whole of the financial responsibility for its storage? The proposal made by organisations of growers, which T heartily endorse, is that a period should be fixed after which the Government would accept responsibility for the cost of storage. That is a reasonable proposal, and provides a way in which the industry may be retained in a solvent position and kept in operation until normal conditions return after the war. I trust that the matter will be considered by responsible Ministers. I should especially like the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to stress it to the Government at a suitable opportunity, in order that justice may be done and relief given to the growers.
– I listened attentively to the remarks of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) on the serious problem of securing sufficient man-power for the canneries in the Shepparton district. I thank the honorable member for his helpful suggestions and, in fact, his co-operation for some little time past. He appreciates, as I do, the great difficulty of obtaining the necessary man-power to harvest the crop and have it processed and otherwise treated at the canneries. We have been considerably disturbed in our minds because, when the fruit is ready to be picked, no time must be lost in having it treated. I well understand how important the matter is to the growers, because they have at stake the return for their labour during the season. Then there is the national aspect. The need for this fruit is great, not only for the fighting forces, but also for the civilian population. The honorable member referred to a very large air force camp in the Shepparton area, and said that it might be possible to make available for the picking of the crop the services of some men who are not actually engaged in training operations. I am happy to be able to inform him that I have to-day received advice that air force personnel were yesterday sent to Shepparton to undertake fruit-picking. The services of 40 members of the military forces who could not be absorbed in the canneries are also to be diverted to picking operations. This action will help the situation in some degree. I am still mindful of the need for constant vigilance and the exercise of pressure on all responsible agencies over which the Government has control, in order that the task may be fulfilled as well as is humanly possible. Arrangements have been made for an officer of the Man Power Department to station himself at Shepparton, in order to supervise and give personal attention to the matter, making such adjustments as may be necessary in the movement of labour from point to point and, I hope, the use of whatever army or air force personnel may be available. The honorable member represents the district, and it ’s important that he should give close attention to the matter. I shall be pleased if he will be good enough to pass on to me any advice that may come to his notice. I assure him that I am determined to do all that is humanly possible to ensure that the crops shall be saved, and that all the man-power on which we can lay our hands shall be placed at the disposal of the industry.
The honorable member forWimmera (Mr. Wilson) touched on a similar problem in respect of dried fruits. It would appear that there is not sufficient manpower available to send to these centres. The evidence available indicates that the juvenile labour which was recruited has not been altogether satisfactory. It is difficult to handle labour under such conditions. Still, we cannot hide behind difficulties; we must do whatever we can. I am glad that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has been present to hear what has been said._ I know how difficult it is for him to make available members of the fighting forces or men who have been recruited for the armed forces. I understand how the training programme may be upset. Perhaps it might be as well that the programme should be upset for the limited periods during which the problem of harvesting food crops is so vital. The time factor has to be considered. Perhaps it would be better, on balance, if training operations were suspended temporarily in order that this task might be fulfilled. I hope that the Minister for the Army will share that view with me, and perhaps impress on the leaders of the forces the need for such steps being taken in order that the fruit may be harvested, processed, and made available when needed. I know that he is responsible for the training of the forces. Nevertheless, between us we ought to be able to solve the problem. I shall do my best to that end.
– It must be done in time, otherwise the fruit will be lost.
– Exactly ; the time factor is paramount. If steps be not taken the entire harvest will be lost and the producer will receive very little return’ for his labour. The loss to the nation could not be estimated in pounds, shillings and pence, because money would not compensate for the loss of vital foodstuffs. I shall be pleased to have at all times the help and co-operation of honorable members.
– I shall take up with the Cabinet immediately the request of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) that the Government should accept a degree of responsibility for the cost of storing wheat in the different pools, I know how agitated the honorable member has been for some time in regard to this matter. 1, too, have viewed with alarm the evermounting cost of storage, which ultimately must be borne by the wheat-grower. A plan was formulated, and is now in operation, whereby from 75 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the wheat will no longer be a burden on the producer in regard to the cost of storage, because the Government has guaranteed to him a net price delivered on rail at the nearest siding or mill, and bears the whole responsibility for ite subsequent storage. I shall discuss with the Cabinet the possibility of arranging that, in respect of the residue, responsibility for storage shall be borne solely by the Government after a given date.
. -The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has drawn the attention of the House to certain circulars issued by a so-called publishing firm, inviting subscriptions to a proposed war publication from the relatives of service men who have died on active service. This matter was brought to my attention some days ago. Inquiries in respect of it havebeen completed and action has already been decided upon by the Government in the particular case mentioned. Regulations will be promulgated, probably to-morrow, designed to prevent the exploitation of the relatives of service men by misleading circulars which seek to extract money from them on the promise of the inclusion of names in war records. I shall then inform the House more fully in respect of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 534.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulationss - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 532.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 479.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 530.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 533.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Young, New South Wales.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 529.
National Security Act -
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Orders - Military powers during emergency (2).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Prohibited places (2).
Taking possession of land, &c. (159).
Use of land (17).
National Security (Land Transport) Regu lations - Order - No. 12.
National Security (War-time Banking Control) Regulations - Order - Publication of balance-sheets and profit and loss accounts.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 20. 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Crown Lands Ordinance - Reasons for resumption of reservation of certain lands near Alice Springs.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinance - 1943 - No. 4 - Leases (Special Purposes).
Regulation - 1943 - No. 1 (Building and Services Ordinance).
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1942, No. 531.
House adjourned at 10.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y. - On the 29th January, 1943, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Trade and’ Customs has now furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : - 1. (a) The consumption of tea by civilians, aged nine years and over in Australia is roughly estimated at 8¼ lb. per head in each of the years 1939, 1940 and 1941. In 1942 it isestimated at about 63/4 lb. per head. (b) The quantity of sugar consumed by the civilian population in private households, cafes, restaurants, boarding houses, hotels, &c. - but excluding consumption in manufactured foodstuffs and by service personnel - is estimated at about 741b. per head in 1939, 76 lb. per- head in 1940, 78 lb. per head in 1941 and - excluding additions to private hoards - about: 78 lb. per head in 1942. 2. (a) The consumption of tea under the existing ration arrangements by the civilian population aged nine years and over is estimated at 74 lb. per head in 1943. (b) The permitted consumption of sugar by all civilians under the existing ration scale - but excluding consumption in manufactured foodstuffs and by service personnel in Australia - is estimated at about68 to 70 lb. per head in 1943.
Australian Food Council.
t asked the Minister for
Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Australian Food Council is an authority constituted by Cabinet, firstly, to advise the Government on all major food matters, and, secondly, to ensure that the food requirements of the fighting forces in the South-West Pacific Area, and the essential food needs of the civilian population are met. In this way the Food Council becomes a central focal reservoir of the combined knowledge of all the departments as regards surveying, sources of supply, ambits of productive capacity of seed and materials, manufacturing and processing sources and capacity. It has, for the first time in the history of Australia, planned production goals, and, having established over-all needs, both service and civil, taken action to ensure that provision is made for these needs. The personnel of the council is as follows: -
As observers -
Mission to Australia;
Representatives of the United States armed forces in the South-West Pacific Area. 2, 3, and 4. The Food Council was established following on the decision ofWar Cabinet on the 27th April, 1942. Its first meeting was held on the 11th May, 1942, and its eighth meeting was held yesterday. Meetings have been held in Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne. The executive committee of the council operates between meetings.
Should honorable members so desire, I shall be very pleased to arrange to have laid on the table of the Library a complete set of the minutes of the Food Council meetings up to date, and to supply copies of the minutes of future meetings. From these minutes honorable members will obtain an excellent appreciation of the most valuable work which is being performed by and through the Australian Food Council.
Tobacco Suppliesfor Services.
y. - On the 28th January, 1943, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked the following question, without notice : -
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs able to say whether it is a fact that cigarettes and tobacco are being distributed to American troops in this country free of duty and that such troops are able to purchase packets of twenty cigarettes for6d. each ? Does not the Minister consider that the time has arrived for cigarettes and tobacco to be made available to our troops free of duty?
The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following answer: -
Cigarettes and tobacco imported from overseas by the American forces in Australia for sale in their canteens are admitted free of duty. No information is available as to the price at which such cigarettes are sold in American canteens. Exemption from duty does not extend to imported goods purchased in bond in Australia or to excisable goods.
The above concession was granted to the United States forces in Australia in view of similar treatment accorded by governments of overseas countries to canteen goods imported into those countries for sale in the canteens of Australian troops stationed in such countries.
The question of whether exemption from duty and excise should be Granted on cigar ettes and tobacco sold to members of the Australian services in Australian canteens has received much consideration, but, owing to the large amount of revenue involved, it has notbeen possible to do so.
Mr.Chifley. - On the 5th February, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the following questions, upon notice -
What were the total expenses, and, separately, the commission, brokerage and other charges paid in respect of each loan flotation since the war began?
If the information desired is not yet available in respect of the Austerity Loan, will he supply that, too, at a later date?
The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
d asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– After consultation with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings), I can advise that the matter of providing accommodation at the present Parliament House has been receiving close investigation for some time and such remedial action as is at present possible is being taken.
The construction of the permanent Parliament House on the site reserved for it in the Griffin plan will be one of the undertakings to be considered for inclusion in the post-war reconstruction plans for the National Capital. It will be appreciated that the technical officers necessary to conduct the preliminary work involved are already subject to heavy and urgent demands.
Australianarmy: Discharges and Releases ; Accommodation at General Details Depot.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will he inform the House of the number of men of (a) the Australian Imperial Force, and (6) the Australian Military Forces, who have been released from the Army during the past six months on compassionate or other grounds, excluding those discharged for physical disabilities or wounds?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - .
e. - On the 29th January, 1943, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr.Rosevear) asked the following questions, without notice: -
I desire to ask whether it is a fact that there is a large body of soldiers in various stages of ill health at Sydney Showground awaiting a decision whether they are to be hoarded; whether it is a fact that there is no accommodation to feed these men at the Showground, and as a consequence, the men are assembled each day at 9 o’clock and dismissed for the following 24 hours on leave; whether that calling together of the men and immediately dismissing them relieves the Army of the obligation of feeding; and whether these men are turned out into the streets without homes in the city and are forced to find somewhere to sleep for the night. If these arefacts, will the Minister see that, in the future, soldiers are provided with food and lodgings whilst they are waiting for interview with the medical board?
I now furnish the honorable member with the following reply : -
n asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
– The answers to. the honorable member’s questions are . as follows . -
The administration of the Quarantine Act.
The investigation of causes of diseases and death, the ‘establishment and control of laboratories for this purpose.
The control of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and the’ commercial distribution of the products manufactured in those laboratories.
The methods of prevention of disease.
The collection of sanitary data, and the investigation of all factors affecting health in industries.
The education of the public in matters of public health.
The administration of any subsidy made fay the Commonwealth with the object of assisting any effort made by any State Government or public authority directed towards the eradication, prevention or control of any disease.
The conducting of campaigns of prevention of disease in which more than one State is interested.
Medical examinations under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions and Public Service Acts, .
Medical examinations of seamen and inspection of vessels under the Navigation Act.
International hygiene matters affecting the Commonwealth.
The control of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Sydney University.
The control of the Australian Institute of Anatomy at Canberra.
The control of public health administration in the Australian Capital Territory.
The control of quarantine in relation to animals and plants.
The administration of the Nuffield Crippled Persons Fund.
The administration of the King George and Queen Mary Maternal and Infant Welfare Memorial Fund.
The administration of the Medical Research Endowment Act.
The administration of the Therapeutic Substances Act.
The administration of the National Fitness Act.
The control of public health administration in the Northern Territory.
The administration of the national health campaign for pre-school child development.
The licensing of alien doctors.
The Munitions Medical Service.
The Emergency Civil Medical Practitioners’ Service.
The supervision of broadcast advertising of patent medicines and talks on medical matters.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 February 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430210_reps_16_173/>.