16th Parliament · 1st Session
Me. Speaker (Hon. W. II. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Health able to say whether there is any truth in the report that small-pox has broken out in Australia? I should also like to know whether the Department of Health has taken precautionary measures to deal with such an eventuality.
– Small-pox has not broken out in Australia, but, unfortunately, a ship has arrived in Australian waters with a Fijian crew on board which is suspected of being infected with small-pox. Thanks to the efficiency of the Marine Branch, and its close collaboration with the Department of Health and the Department of the Navy, wireless messages were sent to Australia well ahead of the ship. When it arrived here it was immediately put into quarantine and precautions have been taken to ensure that no persons suspected of suffering from small-pox, or in whom small-pox may develop, will be able to make contact with people in Australia.
Report of Auditor-General
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to explain to me the meaning of the item “Presentation costs, .£1,601,000” which appears in the accounts for the year ended the 30th June, 1942, of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, published in the Auditor-General’s report? This is the largest item in the accounts, the next largest item being “ Advances to growers, £1,500,0000”. Was the first-mentioned amount paid to the growers? I suggest that a more definitive term should be used in relation to such a large amount.
– The growers receive their payments for the fruit net at their orchards. “ Presentation costs “ cover the cost of cases and the cost of transport from the growers’ properties to the point of marketing.
– Would not “ marketing costs “ be a more appropriate term?
– The term “presentation costs “ was used in connexion with the acquisition of apples and pears during the regime of the previous Government. In fact it has been used ever since the inception of the acquisition scheme.
– On the 17th March I asked the Attorney-General whether, instead of obliging all recommendations for prosecutions for breaches of the pricefixing regulations to be sent to Canberra for consideration, steps could not be taken to authorize local officers to take action in the same way as police officers lay information for minor offences? The
Attorney-General promised to consider the question. I desire to know whether he has done so. I also wish to know whether an office of the Prices Branch can be located at Maitland or somewhere in the coal-fields districts? Frequent requests have been made for an office to be opened in that large area.
– As the honorable member is aware, prosecutions under National Security regulations can be instituted only with the consent of the AttorneyGeneral or of some person thereto authorized by him. To authorize every police officer to institute prosecutions would be going too far. However, the honorable member’s suggestion is receiving consideration. With the object of avoiding centralization certain authorities of the State, which occupy a special position, may be given authority to consent to prosecutions. The second part of the honorable member’s question will be referred to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– A suggestion was made recently that the Government should appoint a commission for the purpose of examining the possibility of making use of the waters of the Snowy River as a means of generating electric power. If such a commission be appointed will the Prime Minister consider requesting it to investigate the possibility of making use of the tidal flow at Westernport as a source of generating such power? There is a very strong tidal flow there which may be suitable for the purpose.
– The Commonwealth Government has not decided to establish such a commission, although the suggestion has been made to it. Both the projects mentioned by the honorable member are of a nature which would properly bring them into the category of national works to be considered by the Minister foi- Post-war Reconstruction in association with State governments.
– Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction consider plans that will enable the enormous capacity for the generation of electricity on Tasmanian rivers to be so utilized that the surplus power, after Tasmania’s needs have been supplied, can be transferred to the mainland by submarine cables?
– An opportunity will be afforded for all projects, which the State Governments regard as desirable national works, to be referred to the Department of Post-war Reconstruction for consideration. Works that may be regarded as necessary after the war will be fully examined and considered in order of priority and urgency.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the report in the press is correct that the Coal-mining Commission has recommended the appointment of a Minister for Mines? If so, does the Government intend to adopt the proposal ?
– The report of the commission reached me only this morning. I have not had an opportunity to consider it yet and I do not know what it contains.
– How did the press get its report?
– The press has the eyes of Argus, a multitudinous number of ears, and also a certain subterranean capacity. On this subject, if it knows anything at all, it knows more than I do at present.
– Has the Prime Minister read a statement in yesterday’s issue of the Sydney Daily Mirror to the effect that the Premier of New South Wales had stated that a charge of 15s. lOd. for a meal in a city restaurant conformed with the National Security (Prices) Regulations? As it is said that the charge in respect of each person was made up of 3s. for a meal, 7s. 6d. for entertainment, 4s. 4d. for Commonwealth entertainments tax, and ls. for special coffee, does the right honorable gentleman consider that the charges comply with what he had in mind when introducing austerity meals? If not, will he have appropriate action taken to rectify the position?
– I have not read the report referred to, and I am not aware of the facts of the case. I should say that anybody who pays 15s. lOd. for a meal, with or without embellishments, has more money than sense, and less patriotism than recklessness.
– Has the Minister for Munitions read the report in the issue of the 25th March of the journal published by the commercial broadcasting stations, in which an account is given of the statement made by him in reply to a question addressed to him some time ago on the subject of action to control radio equipment and repairs? If he has read the statement, can be indicate what licensing system is likely to be introduced, or has he any comment at all to offer regarding the report?
Mir. MAKIN. - I have read the report to which the honorable member has referred. The order dealing with the servicing of radio sets has recently been under consideration by the Department of War Organization of Industry and the Attorney-General’s Department. A draft of the order is at present with the Ministry of Munitions which will have to administer it. . I expect that the necessary action will be taken within the next few days.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House as to further developments on the Sydney waterfront, following his decision that the Army and Navy shall undertake the working of all idle ships? As the waterside workers concerned have laid themselves open to prosecution for absenteeism, and have forfeited the right to exemption from call-up by the manpower authorities, does the Prime Minister pro-pose to take appropriate action against the men concerned?
– This is a matter for deep regret. At the same time it is one that calls for direct and specific action on the part of the Government. The Government has taken the requisite action, and the ships are being worked. Last evening, in company with other Ministers, I met representatives of the trade unions concerned, and I impressed upon them, not only the duty, but also the urgency, of recommending the members of the union immediately to proceed with their work under the conditions prescribed by the Stevedoring Commission. I told them that, if they had a better plan than the commission had formulated, I would ensure that the commission gave early consideration to it. The reports that I have received to-day are to the effect, as one would expect, that the ships are being worked, that the personnel is adequate to the requirements of the port, and that the work is proceeding smoothly. It is being done by the members of the forces who have been directed to operate the ships, and not by the members of the union concerned. I submit that the matter can best be left where it is. I shall deal with each circumstance as it arises.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Master Butchers Association of New South Wales an appeal against the action of employees in retail butchers shops in refusing to work onWednesday afternoons, which is contrary to the provisions of the industrial award applying to their industry? If so, will the right honorable gentleman take action in the matter, so as to ensure that the public, especially those engaged in war work, shall not be debarred from obtaining supplies of fresh meat?
– I do not know whether such a report has been sent to me, as I have been very busy this morning with other matters. I understand that the employees referred to are not working under an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but under a State award. The State law is available to ensure that the requisite things are done in pursuance of that law. I greatly regret that there is such a dispute, but, as I know nothing of the facts, I do not wish to offer an opinion regarding the matter.
Civil Constructional Corps Call-Up
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether the man-power authorities are calling up tradesmen from protected industries, which are doing defence jobs of low priority, and placing them in the Civil Constructional Corps? If that be so, will the Minister arrange for single men to be called up before married men?
– I am not aware that tradesmen have been called up from protected industries and transferred to the Civil Constructional Corps. The matter has been mentioned to me, and I have already called for a report from the Director-General of Man Power. As soon as I receive the report, the information desired by the honorable member will be supplied to him.
– Has the Prime Minister been advised by the trade unions representing the employees of the Allied Works Council that a general strike involving 60,000 employees will occur on the 12th April next, unless the Government agrees to review the award recently made by Judge O’Mara? If the Government has been so advised, what action does it propose to take?
– I have not been so advised. I have read in newspapers, statements which suggest that there is a controversy of some sort in connexion with an award made by Judge O’Mara, The only advice that I have had from any union as to its intentions is that which I gave to the House in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). In it I was informed that Mr. Fallon had advised members of theAustralian Workers Union to continue at work and that the union was applying to the Arbitration Court for a variation of its award.
” Pay-as-you-go “ Plan.
– Has the Treasurer read in to-day’s Sydney Telegraph the report that the Ruml “ pay-as-you-go “ plan introduced in the United States of America had been rejected by the House of Representatives, on the ground that it would create 100.000 war-time millionaires, lead to inflation, and erase government assets of a value of £3,250,000,000?
If so, will the honorable gentleman take counsel with the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members opposite, in order to ascertain whether or not they would care to erase from Hansard, the speeches which they delivered during the recent debate on the financial statement?
– I have not read the article referred to, but have seen derogatory remarks concerning the plan, said to have been made by the President of the United States of America, Mr. Roosevelt. I myself have indulged in such remarks in this House. I understand, from official information received from America, that the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representatives rejected the plan and proposed that a 20 per cent, withholding tax, in character similar to the proposal made in this House by the Government, should be imposed on persons entering industry for the first time who would be earning incomes, but would not have deductions made from what they received. I understand that a decision in the matter has not yet been reached.
Comment bt Auditor-General.
– Has the Minister for Munitions yet had an opportunity to examine the severe criticism of the AuditorGeneral in connexion with certain matters for which the Minister is administratively responsible? If so, is the honorable gentleman prepared to make a statement in reply?
– Because the department has not yet received a copy of the report, it has not been able to make a complete examination of its contents. I have made preliminary inquiries in the department, in order to ascertain whether it has any knowledge of certain firms having overcharged as alleged, and subsequently made rebates, and whether or not other firms are in the same category. I am informed that the department has no knowledge of such cases, beyond those which I mentioned to the House some months ago, when I gave the names of the firms and the excess amounts which it was alleged they had charged for work which they had done for the department.
I have asked that the Auditor-General be requested to supply the names of any firms of which he has knowledge, in order that the whole matter may be thoroughly examined. When I receive the information I shall give full particulars to the House.
Pensions - Prosecutions
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether the New South Wales Government accepted the advice of actuaries that, in order to finance the mine-workers’ pensions scheme, it would be necessary to impose a levy of 5d. a ton on all coal produced and to make a deduction of 5s. a fortnight from the wages of all employees? Is the honorable gentleman aware that mine employees have now to make this contribution in order to obtain a pension of £2 a week for themselves upon attaining the age of 65 years, and of £1 5s. a week for their wives upon attaining the age of 60 years? Does the honorable gentleman know that since this basis was adopted, the Miners’ Pensions Registrar has instructed that beneficiaries under the scheme shall apply for the oldage pension, males at the age of 65 years and females at the age of 60 years, or, if incapacitated, shall apply for the invalid pension? Does the honorable gentleman not consider that the State Government, by adopting the scheme, effects a substantial saving, and that a good deal of confusion results because pensions have to be drawn from two governments? Has the honorable gentleman considered the request of other honorable members and myself that the Government should enact legislation providing that the scheme shall be federally administered? If not, why not?
Mi. HOLLOWAY. - I cannot say that I know exactly what the formula was upon which the mine-workers’ pensions scheme was based, but I do know that it has a contributory basis, the State Government paying a quota, the men making contributions, and the mine-owners paying a subsidy on the coal hewn. I am aware that collections from two sources cause a good deal of confusion. I cannot say whether or not the State Government has made a profit as the result of its demand that coal-miners who are pensioners shall first draw the invalid or the old-age pension. At the request of the honorable member and th% miners federation, the Government has considered the talcing over of the scheme on a Commonwealth basis. Discussions have been held between the Treasurer, the federation, other persons, and myself, and a conference is to be held in Sydney at an early date in order to determine whether or not a scheme can be evolved.
– Is it the intention of the Attorney-General to give effect to the proposal that was made at a conference of miners’ officials, that the Government should suspend temporarily the prosecution of striking miners? In view of the serious interruption of coal production that has already occurred, will the right honorable gentleman assure the House that the law will be allowed to take its course against striking coalminers and strikers in other industries?
– The procedure in relation to the coal-mining industry has already been stated by me to the House. It is this: Upon stoppages occurring, inquiries are made by investigation officers. Reports are then submitted to the Coal Commissioner, who makes a recommendation as to whether or not prosecutions should be launched. I believe that I can say that perhaps not one of the many recommendations made has been rejected. That procedure has been and is being followed.
– What about taking action against the coal-owners also?
– The reports of the investigation officers deal equally with coalowners and, as the honorable member knows, convictions have been obtained against them.
– Why not nationalize the mines?
– That question had better be put to some one else. A reference was made to a report of the Coal Commission in a question that was directed to the Prime Minister. The unanimous recommendation of the Coal Commission, which, as the honorable member for Hunter knows, is representative of the miners as well as of the owners, is that the present practice in relation to the examination of facts, and prosecution where that is recommended, should be continued. So far as I am concerned, it will be continued.
Prosecution foe Breaches.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral say whether a prosecution against one of the leaders of the United Australia party in New South Wales for breaches of the National Security Regulations covering the manufacture of clothing has been recommended? If so, will he see that the law is invoked regardless of the political affiliations of the gentleman concerned, as in other cases?
– I do not know to what particular instance the honorable member refers, but I assure the House that affiliation with any political party will not affect decisions in these matters.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a report in to-day’s press that the annual conference of the Australian Wheat-growers Federation in Sydney yesterday decided to ask for a payment of 5s. 2d. a bushel for all wheat grown on licensed areas? In view of that decision, and of a similar decision recently made by the Victorian Wheat-growers Association, which also, opposed the Scully plan against the wishes of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), who constitutes the Government’s majority in this chamber, what action does the Government propose to take concerning these requests ?
– I have read the statement. The whole subject will receive the earnest consideration of the Government.
Consideration of Report of the Standing Orders Committee.
.- I move -
That the report be taken into consideration in committee of the whole House forthwith.
The Standing Orders Committee has been functioning for a number of years and has made a series of reports. Some time ago the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) directed attention to a feature of the Standing Orders which I undertook to bring before the committee immediately. That was done, and the committee undertook to prepare and table a report provided that I gave an assurance that the report would not suffer the fate of many previous reports, but that honorable members would be given an opportunity to discuss it. That opportunity is now presented to honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed Standing Order No. 1
– The report of the Standing Orders Committee was tabled some time ago, and I understand that it was circulated to honorable members, although, owing to the pressure of other business, it probably has not received a great deal of attention. Where an alteration of the existing procedure is proposed, attention is directed to that fact by the proposed alteration being printed in italics. I suggest that the Standing Orders be dealt with seriatim as if we were considering a bill clause by clause.
– The report has only just been circulated. Many honorable members have not yet seen it.
– I was present when the report was tabled in the House some weeks ago and I am assured that it was circulated.
– Copies were laid on the table.
.- It is most unfair to ask the committee to deliberate on this comprehensive report forthwith. It may be that the report was tabled some weeks ago, but it was not circulated. I did not even know that it had been tabled.
– When the report was tabled, copies of it were placed on the table.
– The usual practice is to supply copies to members.Full consideration cannot be given to the report if the proposals of the committee are dealt with in a hurry. I object to doing so.
– I do not know why the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) should protest against the proposal to deal with the committee’s report to-day. Some weeks ago, I secured a copy of the report when it was sent to honorable members.
– It was not circulated.
– Many of the proposed alterations of the existing Standing Orders are long overdue, but I desire to make some inquiries in relation to some of them. Sections 40 and 50 of the Constitution provide -
Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to -
Standing Order 126 provides that no resolution or other vote may be rescinded unless seven days’ notice be given and at least one-half of the whole number of the members of the House vote. Section 40 of the Constitution provides that questions in this chamber shall be decided by a majority vote of the members.
– I rise to a point of order. I take this opportunity to protest against the manner in which this report is being discussed. I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will ask that progress be reported, and that an opportunity will be afforded to honorable members to consider the report.
– I suggest that those honorable members who profess to know something of the subject should be allowed to speak. After that we shall report progress.
– This matter is one of profound importance, involving as it does the rights of members of Parliament. Is it proposed to deal with the proposals clause by clause, or are we being invited to roam all over the Standing Orders, picking out those parts which, in our opinion, merit discussion?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).I have a good deal of sympathy with the honorable member’s point of order. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) brought this matter forward, and I do not know just how the Government intended that it should be dealt with. The most convenient way would be to consider the recommendations clause by clause.
– I submit that the amendment of the Standing Orders is not Government business at all; it is a matter for consideration by the House. The Government is using this opportunity to debate the Standing Orders in order to avoid a debate on something eke which it does not want debated.
– The committee which was set up for the purpose has gone through the Standing Orders and recommended certain amendments. We are now in committee to consider those amendments, and I think that the best way to do it would be to take them one by one.
.- I have had to deal with a good many reports of parliamentary committees, and it is my impression that they were always dealt with by the House. It would be an impossible procedure to deal with the Standing Orders one by one. If we attempt to do that, we shall be here all this week and the next week also. It is desirable, I believe, that some one shouldmake an explanation to the committeeshowing in what respects the existingprovisional standing orders are to be amended.After that, honorable members will beable to formulate any criticisms whichthatmay wish to offer regarding thecommittee’s recommendations.
– Why is matter being considered in committee; arid not by the House?
– I do not know. It is important that we should deal with this report, partly as a tribute to the committee, which gave a great deal of time and labour to its preparation, and also because the subject is in itself one of importance.
– We should have something equivalent to a second-reading speech introducing the proposals.
– I presume that the Housewent into committee so that we might have the benefit of the Speaker’s advice. The committee has recommended several alterations; but they are fairly simple in character and could be explained easily to the committee. I suggest that a general exposition of the recommendations be made, and that further consideration of them be adjourned so that honorable members may have an opportunity to consider the report in detail. Unfortunately, the report was not in the hands of most honorable members until to-day. I, as a member of the committee, received a report, and I was under the impression that it had been circulated, but apparently that is not so.
– If it is the desire of the committee that there should be a general debate on the report, it can take place on the first clause.
.- I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn). For my part, I saw the report for the first time to-day, and I think that is true of most other honorable members. That being so, a general debate would serve no useful purpose. Some one should explain the outstanding alterations which it is proposed to make, and then the recommendations should be considered in detail.
– My proposal was in accordance with the suggestion of the honorable member for Bourke.
– If it is intended that some one should explain the nature of the alterations, and that the matter should then be adjourned, I agree.
.- I am at a loss to understand how this matter comes to be considered in committee. In view of what the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) said in regard to procedure in cases of this kind, the sooner the chair is resumed by the Speaker so that the recommendations may be considered by the House, the better it will be. We should not lightly depart from established precedents. I should like to hear a general explanation of the purport of the amendments, because, like most other honorable members, I received my copy of the report of the committee only a few minutes ago. When it was first tabled some weeks ago, I perused the report by courtesy of the Clerk, but I cannot now recall the precise nature of the proposed amendments. As I have not had an opportunity to study them I am not able at this juncture to debate them. If the rules of debate are strictly applied, the discussion at this juncture must be confined to chapter 1 of the report. A spokesman for the Standing Orders Committee should be afforded an opportunity to explain to honorable members precisely the alterations proposed. At the same time, honorable members should not be confined to a discussion of the report itself, but should be able, if they bo desire, to suggest further amendments of the Standing Orders. If that opportunity be not given to honorable members we might just as well adopt the committee’s report in globo immediately. However, if honorable members are not to be permitted to propose improvements in addition to those submitted by the Standing Orders Committee, the proceedings will become farcical. From a cursory glance at the report, I find it does not refer to the invasion of the rights of the Parliament by the press although that was probably the principal reason for the Standing Orders Committee’s review of the Standing Orders. Is it proper that, owing to the committee’s failure to do something which some honorable members think it should have done, they should not be permitted to propose an appropriate amendment of the Standing Orders? Even if an honorable member be enabled to propose an additional amendment, can it be fairly said that, in the circumstances, he has been given ample opportunity to frame an appropriate motion to indicate the manner in which the Parliament should deal with offences against its authority by a section of the press? The present procedure seems to be entirely irregular. The 1st April is an appropriate date on which to introduce the matter in this manner. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to report progress in order to enable the House to proceed with its consideration of the report of the Standing Orders Committee in a proper manner.
– We are now in committee by direction of the House, and it is for honorable members to determine the procedure to be adopted for the discussion of the Standing Orders Committee’s report. It has been suggested that a representative of the Standing Orders Committee should first explain the proposed amendments.
– It seems to me that, in considering chapter 1 of the Standing Orders Committee’s report, honorable members may discuss the report generally. The Government has no desire to push through the report. However, I assume from the remarks of one honorable member that he has studied the report. I also assume that the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), and the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell), who are members of the Standing Orders Committee, are fully informed on the subject. If honorable members favour a general discussion of the report at this juncture, perhaps an explanation from those honorable members would be helpful, and at the conclusion of their remarks progress could be reported.
– I had supposed that, as the report of the Standing Orders Committee was tabled, it had been circulated among honorable members.
– I suggest that the sitting might be suspended in order to enable honorable members to peruse the report.
– All the amendments proposed by the Standing Orders Committee are briefly explained in italics in the committee’s report.”
.- We have to review the Standing Orders generally. The Standing Orders were provisionally adopted 43 years ago and they are still temporary. I think that it is time that we gave serious consideration to something in the nature of permanent or considered standing orders.
Sitting suspended from S.S0 to k p.m.
– As there has not been an adequate opportunity for honorable members to. study the report of the Standing Orders Committee, I suggest that progress be reported.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had disagreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives to the Senate’s amendment No. 3 for the reason assigned therein(vide page 2580).
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s message) : ,
Senate’s amendment No. 3 and House of Representatives’ amendment thereto (vide page 2568).
– I move -
That the committee does not insist upon the amendment made by the House, and agrees to the Senate’s amendment No. 3.
I do this as representing the only way in which the purpose of the bill can in fact immediately become law.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I hoped that we should be able to reach some arrangement with the Senate; but the facts are that yesterday this committee desired to include in the bill additions to the provisions relating to preference which had been inserted by the Senate. The bill as it has been returned to this committee does not include any feature with which the Government is not in entire accord. We regret, however, that the two categories of persons whom we desired to include in the measure have been omitted, but there will be a later opportunity to deal with that aspect of the general question. In the interests of the soldiers and their dependants and in order that the Parliament may produce legislation which, although it does not represent completely the opinion of either House, contains principles in regard to which both Houses are in agreement, the Government has decided to accept the Senate’s amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
I contemplate that Parliament will meet some time in June, unless the circumstances of the war make it desirable that it should meet earlier.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Third Liberty Loan - Internment of Norwegian Seamen - Venereal Disease - Country Nursing Services - Diabetic Foods - Auditor-General’s Report: Munitions Establishments; Army Stores; Buildings, Plant and Equipment ; Cost-plus Contracts ; Canberra Omnibus Service; Note Issue; A.B.C. Weekly - Co-operative Movement - Roman Catholic School at Cardiff - Malting Industry - AustralianArmy : Minors in New Guinea - Royal Australian Navy : Enlistment of Debtor; Discharge of R. G. Anslow - Allied Works Council: Leave for Workers at Tennant Creek - Unemployment Insurance - Firewood - Department of Post-war Reconstruction.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Half of the period of five weeks allotted to the Third Liberty Loan of £100,000,000 has passed. Only half of the amount sought is in hand, and the subscribers number fewer than 35,000. Since the first £50,000,000 which has been barely reached includes the large subscriptions of savings banks, assurance societies, commercial houses, and other institutions, this is a most disappointing response by Australians to an imperative demand. Subscribers to the Third Liberty Loan so far compare with 130,000 at the same stage of the Austerity Loan when two-thirds of the amount asked for had been subscribed.
Many thousands of people have in the last few days cheered members of the 9th Division who have fought valiantly for us overseas and who have returned to carry on the fight at home. Is appreciation of these men - of all our fighting men - to stop at cheering, flagwaving and lip service? The slow progress of the Third Liberty Loan is an affront to our nationhood. It represents a triumph for selfishness and complacency over all our obligations as citizens of a country in deadly peril. Surely such a shocking response is no true reflection of Australian sentiment. There is no middle course. Either we face up to whatever sacrifices are demanded of us to ensure our safety or we endure much worse at the hands of a savage enemy.
What has this nation been called on to bear so far ? There are shortages of beer and cigarettes. Coupons are required for clothes and sugar and tea. But does the nation go hungry or unclad? Has one of our cities known Stalingrad’s agony, or Coventry’s ruin, or Rotterdam’s mass murder from the air? So far, Australia has been kept safe from the onward march of the Japanese. . But that is not a circumstance which should encourage complacency or justify excuses to evade what cannot be evaded. It is a circumstance which should call for everything to go into a maximum effort to secure immunity from the horrors of war. That is the selfish side of it. I put it to the country that it would be nothing short of betrayal to fail to give those gallant men who have been put into the field everything that they must have to preserve their own lives and to defend us. Is the civil population at home, suffering nothing, sacrificing little, to take refuge in all manner of excuses for failing to measure up to the standard of Australianism which our fighting men have set ?
It is true that taxation has been increased. That is inescapable in a fight to preserve liberty. And if on top of that, subscription to the loan makes people feel the pinch what of it? This is the testing time. Sacrifice has been talked of enough. Here it is now in reality. It is of no use blinking the facts. All have to use less, buy less, spend less in every possible direction so that men and money and material may work for the war. The person who can show that he or she has lived simply, has stripped himself or herself of everything except bare essentials and still cannot afford to subscribe to this loan is the only person who can justify absence from the list of subscribers. It is nonsense to talk of taxation as a reason for non-participation in the loan. While racecourses attract record crowds, while outside theatres queues wait for admittance, while money is still ‘ being wasted recklessly in the purchase of all kinds of things that could and should and must wait, there can be no excuses such as that.
The failure of the loan will represent not only an injury to ourselves as a nation ; it will also represent a severe blow at the cause of the United Nations. It will give the enemy valuable material for propaganda. It will give the enemy poised now for attack confidence in the outcome of such an attempt, for it will be reasoned that the hearts of Australian people are not in the fight.
The answer to all that I have said is plain. Duty calls to every Australian. I invoke the Australian Parliament to give a lead to the nation. I ask that, during the two weeks remaining before the loan closes, each member of the Parliament shall devote all his available time to . helping the progress of the loan. If Australia cannot produce tangible evidence of the strength of its own purpose then this nation cannot, with justice, put a case to the leaders of the United Nations for assistance to hold out. There are two weeks within which Australia can regain national self-respect. I am confident that that fortnight will bring fruitful results.
I have spoken plainly and deliberately. This outline has been prepared with care, but at the same, time with determination. The paramount and overriding requirements of the war must be kept uppermost in the mind of every citizen. There is nothing that the leader of this country can ask of the people - when what is asked is far less than that which is required of those who are actually defending us - which should not be freely and even cheerfully given. Within a day or so the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) will leave this country on a very vital and important mission, but that mission, however important it is, will require no more from him than is required of the men who are actually fighting for us. He has asked me to emphasize that fact. He goes in pursuance of his duty, in order to ensure the freedom of this country, and to work for it. Those who stay behind have the same duty as have those who go into the fighting lines, or others who go outside Australia on important governmental missions. I pray for the success of our fighting forces. I pray not only that the Minister’s mission will be attended with success, but also that he will have, under Divine Providence, a safe return. I beg the Australian people, many of whom to-day are idle when they could be working, and are dissipating resources which they ought to be husbanding, to bear in mind that what is being sought from them is being sought not only to preserve the freedom which they enjoy, but also so that their children in the years to come may be assured of the liberty which all of us have inherited and which we have a solemn trusteeship to preserve.
– I join with the Leader of the ‘Government (Mr. Curtin) in the appeal which he has made to the nation through its representatives assembled here to-day. I also share his disappointment and disgust at the evidences of apathy and complacency that we find all round us, and reflected in the barometer of the £100,000,000 loan that was recently launched. When the last Austerity Loan was floated, only two out of every ten salary and wage earners of Australia contributed to it, and only 15 per cent, of the wage fund of Australia was drawn upon to provide the wherewithal to supply the necessary equipment to our fighting forces. Remembering this, we must realize the necessity for concentrating upon that large field of spending power which, although it should be available to fill this loan for the war effort, is being misused and misdirected. The people must recognize that contributions to the war loan as a means of financing Australia’s war effort are only so many insurance premiums against invasion by an enemy, the destruction that would result, and all the aftermath of a dreadful war in our own country. I was privileged last Sunday evening to hear a very fine broadcast address by Mr. Justice Davis, the High Commissioner for Canada, and I hope that it was heard in every home in this country. When one hears what has been done in Canada, one realizes how little, in proportion to population, Australia has done, and the degree to which true patriotism is lacking. If this loan were to fail, it would be an appalling indictment of the Australian nation, and a tremendous blow to its prestige, because it would show that we had let our Allies down. There is too much spending money in this community. The policy of the Government is directly opposed to the policy, financial and otherwise, which has been initiated and advocated by members on this side of the House, but we must take things as they are. The Government has steadfastly and optimistically pinned its faith to the voluntary effort of the people, and it is up to the people not to let it down in that regard.
– How is the right honorable member on the conscription of wealth?
– The taxation of wealth has already been effectively carried out by an income tax reaching the high rate of 18s. 6d. in the £1 on large incomes. I shall not debate that subject, because wealth takes various forms. There is available in Australia a fund which should be tapped and effectively utilized for the prosecution of the war. The people whose resources constitute that fund are slacking by not contributing their due and fair proportion to the war effort. This appeal for subscriptions is not made from a charitable point of view. The loan is one of the best investments that the nation has to offer. It is backed by the resources of the nation, and it will return a reasonable rate of interest to the investor. From every point of view, I join with the Prime Minister in the hope that each and every member of this Parliament will use his best endeavour to see that the loan is expeditiously filled in the interests of a maximum all-in war effort on the part of Australia in conjunction with our allies.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) or the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) to the position of three Norwegian seamen who are being held in an internment camp in South Australia as prohibited immigrants, awaiting deportation to Norway. For some reason or other, they lost or left their ships, and they are most apprehensive of being sent to Norway, because they say that they will certainly be regarded by the people of that country as “ Quislings on account of their having been interned in an allied country. Their own nationals, they think, will not understand how they could be loyal if they have been interned. It is most remarkable that, at a time when men to man our ships are so urgently needed, these three men should be kept in an internment camp awaiting deportation. I have received the following letter from them: -
We, the undersigned Norwegian-born subjects, Alfred Eidsnes, Harald Jensen and Olav Slaattun, at the present time detained here for being prohibited immigrants, as being without landing permits, herewith take the opportunity to ask for your kind assistance.
We are all seamen in different ranks and have been at sea for up to seventeen years. Since war broke out we have been sailing supplies to the Allies in the Battle of the North Atlantic and the Pacific, and we have, experienced several narrow escapes.
We have been interned from ten to eighteen months. One have appeared before Tribunal, and where it was proved that he had been absent without leave and. been under influence of the liquor. The two others have both lost their respective vessels, but have not been for any court. However, it is proved that in no cases we have not boon deserters and no legal charges have been made against us. We have been officially informed that we all are prohibited immigrants.
We regret that we, as loyal Norwegian subjects, paying our income tax to our government in exile and risking our life for the Allied cause, not have received any assistance from our Norwegian Consulate General as we had naturally expected, and thus enable us to return to sea.
None of us have been in Norway since the occupation of that country by the Germans. After Norway was invaded, it was for some time compulsory for Norwegian seamen to contribute to their government in London for the re-building of our country. When this contribution became voluntary our contribution continued just the same. Some” of us have even on several occasions given donations to our country and the Allies in its campaign against Nazism and dictatorship. Our detention is far from the policy of the Free Norwegian Government in London, where labour interests are properly represented, and where all seamen have full legal rights. But being internees, we are prevented communicating with our government for their assistance.
We have been advised: “In the absence of the Security Regulation it is not desired that Norwegian seamen should be interned for an indefinite period”. Perhaps, the most distressing feature of our case is that seamen are now desperately needed to maintain the Allied shipping lines. The great shortage of seamen is due to better and safer working conditions ashore, and from our earlier experience at sca in this war we know the grave danger there is involved in maritime service at the present time. You will appreciate in the circumstances, Mr. Blackburn, that no person would undertake this kind of work unless inspired of the utmost loyalty.
With great sorrow we have seen how our beloved country, Norway, has been overrun by the Huns, and from the newspapers we daily can read the horrors and how the Norwegians are maltreated by the Nazis in Norway, and despite our earnest desire wu cannot give any help to liberate our country, being interned.
The gravest aspect with our internment is that we are all facing deportation in a very distant future, and afterwards being classified as Quisling supporters after having been interned in an Allied country.
Wc have no political or police records In any country, or done anything against the British Km pi re or the Allied cause. We are all loyal to our King, Haakon the 7th and his government, at the present time in exile in England.
Our earnest desire is to lend a hand to the world to get rid of this hateful Fascism and dictatorship. We are all prepared to accept any position at sea, regardless of rank and conditions, on either overseas or coastal vessel, and we assure you we will do our best to help the Allied war effort.
You will appreciate in the circumstances we as union members have no representatives from our union in Australia, so we, therefore, appeal to you, as we all feel quite marooned here, being without any proper connexion.
It is unbelieveable that loyal Allied seamen, strong and healthy and whose earnest desires are to assist the Allies in this grave hour of period cannot secure positions.
Nor is it, we hardly think, reconcilable with what we previously have heard throughout the world concerning British fairness and justice, and for which Great Britain is fighting this war.
Wc, therefore, earnestly appeal to you, as an Australian Labour member, for the justice wc have failed to receive elsewhere, and we should be very grateful if you could assist us in returning to the sea again.
The signatories are Alfr. L. Eidsnes, Harald Jensen and Olav Slaattun. I hope that the Government will consider their position. It is absurd and unjust that they should be held in this country, unable to render service either to Norway or to Australia. Looming over them is the terror of being interned, and later sent back to Norway bearing the stigma that the best use which an allied country could make of them during the war was to imprison them.
– Last week the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) asked me whether the Commonwealth health authorities were cooperating with the State Health Departments in an endeavour to check the spread of venereal disease, or were in any way tackling the problem of its eradication. I assured him that they were, and promised to get an up-to-date report before the close of the session. I now inform him that the Commonwealth Director-General of Health is in constant collaboration with the health officers in the various States, and also with the Central Medical Co-ordination Committee, as it affects the fighting forces. All parties are doing everything possible to keep this disease under control. At the moment, I am conferring with the Queensland Minister for Health, Mr. Hanlon, regarding the best method of extending the control into outlying districts. Dr. ‘Cumpston is also considering the best method of introducing a scientific educational campaign. This phase is most difficult and delicate, because of the conflicting opinions held by various sections of the community on this subject. Some people consider that the Government should institute a courageous educational campaign, whilst others interpret such courage as indecency. The incidence of venereal disease in the Army has been much less this year than in the two preceding years. That, in itself, is encouraging. With regard to the incidence of the disease among the general public, it is safe to say that the interstate efforts which are now being exerted have checked it, whilst the educational campaign will be a material factor in its eradication.
The Department of Health has received a considerable volume of correspondence on the subject of bush nursing hospitals, and this matter was raised by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) recently.
– Other honorable members have also raised it in correspondence with the Minister.
– That is so. Representations are now being received by the Government to the effect that certain proposals by the National Health and Medical Research Council imply that the bush nursing hospitals will be replaced by a small consultation centre staffed by a doctor and a nurse, and that the bush nursing hospital system will disappear. Some confusion has arisen, and there has been some distortion of this matter. Some time ago, the National Health and Medical Research Council put forward what it described as “ an outline of a possible scheme for a salaried medical service “. This report stated that in some places the scheme would replace the bush nursing system, the nurse being brought under the control of the doctor. But it did not say anything about bush nursing hospitals. Whilst in Victoria the bush nursing hospital system is the principal part of the bush nursing organization, it is not so in other States. This “ outline “ which was furnished by the National Health and Medical Research Council was to be a basis for discussion, and it was stated that “such discussion is essential for the correlation of differing but sincerely held points of view “. The Government prompted the Parliament to appoint a joint committee to inquire into the whole subject. The committee has dealt with these suggestions, but has not limited its consideration in any way to these proposals. It has taken evidence from the Bush Nursing Association. Sir James Barrett, the president of that association in Victoria, gave evidence, and it is to be assumed that all the representations which were made will be very deliberately considered. The position in respect of bush nursing hospitals is not likely to be altered before all aspects have been considered, and the existing organizations had been consulted, because the object is not to destroy existing facilities, but to extend them.
I also promised the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) that I would make a statement regarding vh at he alleged to be a dangerous shortage of foods required by diabetics. The position is that the requirements of diabetics, such as green vegetables, were in short supply in the late winter and spring of last year. However, they are not now in short supply, and there is no reason why diabetics cannot obtain all they require. The other two requirements which are specially needed for diabetics, are meat and butter. These are not in such short supply as to prevent diabetics from being able to get all their requirements. The Food Council has always kept in mind the needs of diabetics. Special steps have been taken to conserve other requirements of diabetics, such as saccharin and insulin. However, other quite legitimate fears have been expressed by members of the public as well as by the right honorable member for Cowper as to the danger of supplies of manufactured foods necessary for diabetics, such as special jams, fruits, mustard pickles, tomato soup, &c, being cut off, not because of a natural shortage of the ingredients of these foods, but because of interstate transport restrictions, and the shortage of tin-plate for . containers and essential commodities including glycerine, which is so necessary for munitions purposes. Whilst it is a fact that the Rosella Preserving and Manufacturing Company Limited in Victoria is the sole manufacturer and supplier of such foods for all States, most of the difficulties have been overcome. One of the many problems which the company had to meet is the supply of glycerine, which is used in the manufacture of all diabetic foods. A total of 25 tons was allocated to the company by the Munitions (Materials Supply) Directorate, but as this was obviously insufficient to meet requirements, we approached Mr. Parker, of the directorate, and pointed out the necessity for increasing this allocation. The Rosella Company was also advised to apply officially for increased supplies, and, as the result, the annual quota has been increased from 25 tons to 50 tons per annum. Further, in order that an early additional distribution may be made possible, the directorate was asked to allocate five tons of glycerine immediately, and negotiations are at present under way to meet this request. It is understood that four tons will be made available within the next week. In the meantime, the Rosella Company has sent all available supplies of diabetic jams, fruits, mustard pickles and tomato soup to New South Wales and the four main stores - Anthony Horderns, David Jones, Grace Brothers and Buckingham’s - have received deliveries. Diabetic foods are packed in 5-oz. cans as in almost all instances the necessity is to meet the requirements of an individual only. As these cans are made from tinplate off-cuts, no difficulty is experienced in making the containers. The Rosella Company expects to send good supplies of its diabetic products to New South Wales in the near future, and also to other States as production is increased. It is hoped that, very shortly, diabetic sufferers will be under no disabilities in obtaining supplies of these necessary foods.
.- I regret exceedingly that honorable members have not been given an opportunity before the close of the session to discuss the Auditor-General’s report.
– We have not even seen the report.
– I have had an opportunity to peruse a copy of it, and I am alarmed at some of the criticisms which the Auditor-General has made regarding governmental accounts for the year ended the 30th June, 1942. The AuditorGeneral has made it clear that he is very dissatisfied with the method of controlling expenditure, particularly in connexion with munitions works, aircraft factories, and certain other big governmental enterprises connected with the war effort. It is the duty of this Parliament to take notice of the comments of the Auditor-General. In connexion with the expenditure being incurred in aircraft production which reaches a huge total each year, the Auditor-General stated that the accounts are very unsatisfactory and inaccurate, and indicate a lack of supervision and control. This confirms the statement that I made in the House some time ago that although a considerable sum was being spent on a costing system involving the use of man-power, it was incomplete and worse than useless because it was misleading. This Parliament should not let such a charge pass unheeded. A drastic inquiry should he. ordered. I am pleased that the Treasurer is in the House for I hope that he will take notice of my remarks and give his close attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs revealed by the Auditor-General.
On page 74 of his report the AuditorGeneral draws attention to the fact that the check of the accounts in connexion with munitions establishments is most unsatisfactory and, that except in the case of one factory, no financial statements have been certified in respect of the year ended the 30th June, 1942. In a number of instances, owing to the absence of certain explanations, statements for the financial year 1940-41 have not yet been completed. The Auditor-General also refers to the heavy loss incurred owing to the inadequate control of metals at the munitions factories during the year. I trust that immediate attention will be given to the effecting of improvements in these accounts.
In his previous report the AuditorGeneral referred to the unsatisfactory nature of the accounts in connexion with certain stores of the Department of the Army, and he again draws attention to this fact and points out that very little improvement has been made since last year. He states that it seems impossible that any reliable accounts for the stores for 1940-41, will ever be prepared. Owing to the inordinate delay in making complete records of this expenditure, it has proved to be impracticable to make a proper stock-taking. This is highly unsatisfactory.
As the Government is expending huge sums of money in the purchase of plants, the equipment of buildings, and the provision of stores it is essential that proper records shall be kept. Unless this is done disputes will be inevitable later on about the ownership of the assets.
– What did the Joint Committee on War Expenditure do in relation to the Slazenger case?
– The committee submitted a report to the Government, but unfortunately the money had been expended long before the matter was brought to the notice of the committee.
– That is the trouble.
– The honorable gentleman will find, on a perusal of the report, that the committee was far from satisfied with the arrangements that have been made in respect of that matter. I emphasize the importance of the keeping of proper records of such enterprises. In some of the munitions factories machinery is being installed which costa thousands of pounds for each unit. In the absence of proper records the Government will not be able to tell where it stands when, at a later date, a reckoning must be made. I do not make these remarks in criticism of the Government, but in order to emphasize the urgent need for parliamentary action to prevent a continuance of the present procedure.
The Auditor-General points out that the accounts and records of contractors engaged on cost-plus contracts are examined by departmental investigating officers, but that no specific provision has been made in the agreements entered into that the books of these contractors shall be subject to examination by the staff of the Auditor-General. This is a grave weakness as Parliament must look to the Auditor-General for an independent report upon these matters.
– The Auditor-General would need a large staff to give effect to the procedure suggested by the honorable member.
– The Auditor-General has confirmed a statement that I made some time ago in the House to the effect that certain Government authorities are maintaining numerically strong internal audit staffs, but that the system of checking accounts is entirely ineffective. I think the honorable member will agree that such substantial sums are involved in cost-plus contracts, that every endeavour should be made to ensure an effective check of the expenditure.
– The whole system is unsatisfactory. Has the honorable member any constructive suggestions to offer?
– Parliament has a duty to ensure that value is obtained for the expenditure of public money. I suggest that the Treasurer should discuss this matter with the Auditor-General with a view to reorganizing all internal checking systems in order to ensure the carrying out of the work under direct instruction and supervision by the AuditorGeneral.
I refer to this subject because I consider it to be of grave importance. There is undoubtedly a feeling of uneasiness in the minds of the people at large that money is being squandered. It is the duty of the Parliament to do everything possible to remove any grounds for such suspicions, and to ensure that full value is obtained for the money that is expended.
The Auditor-General also refers to expenditure being incurred by the Allied Works Council. He points out that the audit of the accounts in connexion with such works carried out by the State Governments on behalf of the Allied Works Council is subject to the State AuditorsGeneral. As this expenditure represents a considerable amount of money, the Commonwealth Parliament should have some opportunity of perusing these reports. It is essential, in my view, that the Commonwealth Auditor-General, also, should be afforded the opportunity to peruse reports made by the AuditorsGeneral of the States. We all are well aware that charges of extravagance have been laid against the Allied Works Council, particularly in relation to expenditure carried out through State Government instrumentalities, and it is surely the duty of this Parliament, in such circumstances, to ensure that proper provision shall be made for the checking of all expenditure. In respect of departmental accounting and internal checks, the Auditor-General has reported -
This is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and, in view of the huge amount involved, steps should be immediately taken to have this put in order.
– I cannot quite see what advantage would be derived if the work were taken from the inspectors of the Munitions Department and given to the inspectors of the Auditor-General’s Department.
– The honorable member for Dalley has had sufficient experience to know that one cannot altogether rely upon obtaining from a department a .true account of what has happened. Greater satisfaction would be given if the accounts were examined by an independent authority like the Auditor-General. That officer has cited one case to which I referred in this House some time ago. No notice was taken of my representations, and the practice then in vogue has been continued. I refer to the costing system which has proved so ineffective and unsatisfactory in the Department of Aircraft Production, which for the purpose employs a huge staff at a cost of thousands of pounds. Notwithstanding the outlay on the system, the department has not been able to give the cost of one unit of production. As I have already emphasized, the results have been not only worse than futile, but also misleading. One could not expect to receive a satisfactory report from an officer of the department. I submit to the honorable member for Dalley that it would be in the interests of this Parliament to have reports made by ‘an authority unconnected with the management of the department.
There is another matter upon which the Parliament is entitled to be given more information than is contained in the financial statement or the report of the Auditor-General.
– It is extraordinary that members of this House have not yet received a copy of the Auditor-General’s report.
– I have made it my business to obtain one. I am raising these matters now because I shall not have another opportunity to do so until some time after the House next meets. The omnibus service in Canberra was run at a loss of £6,988 last year, compared with a loss of £5,907 in the previous year. Having had opportunities to examine similar undertakings elsewhere, I am completely unable to understand the reason for such a loss on a utility of this kind in the capital city, in view of the considerable use that is made of the service. The Parliament is entitled to have placed before it a statement in connexion with not only the omnibus service, but also all other public utilities in Canberra, in order that their trading position may be disclosed periodically. Some time ago, on behalf of the Public Works Committee, I wished to acquaint myself with the position of the abattoirs, but had to make inquiries in two departments before I could obtain the information that I needed. I trust that the
Treasurer will take steps to have detailed statements submitted to the House in future.
The report of the Auditor-General states that, at the 30th June, 1942, the Australian note issue had reached an amount of £102,000,000, representing 25.9 per cent, of the gold and English sterling reserve expressed in Australian currency. The Commonwealth Bank Act provides that a minimum of 25 per cent, of the note issue must be represented by the reserve of gold and English sterling. The margin is thus ‘becoming extremely narrow. The note issue increased last year from £60,000,000 to £102,000,000. I do not know what further increase has taken place, but I assume that the Commonwealth Bank Board will ensure compliance with the conditions laid down in the act.
I shall now deal with my pet subject -the A.B.O. Weekly. The report of the Auditor-General states that the loss on this journal for the year ended the 30th June, 1942, was £29,000, which is an average of £550 a week. That huge loss is not the worst feature. As a matter of fact, as I have already emphasized, the journal is futile for the purpose it was intended to serve, because it is purchased by only 3 per cent, of those who hold a listener’s licence. I am pleased that the Broadcasting Committee has decided to adopt my proposal that a comprehensive statement shall be submitted to the Parliament each year, setting out the total income and expenditure in connexion with broadcasting, with details of the item “ other expenditure “, which covers up the cost of the A.B.O. Weekly. I have taken very strong exception to any public utility associated with the Commonwealth covering up such a huge loss as £29,000 in the item “ other expenditure “. I gave evidence before the Broadcasting Committee, in the course of which I made certain recommendations, with the result that the Parliament will in future have placed before it a full explanation of matters of this kind. I notice that the Australian Broadcasting Commission states that this is not a loss but a “ cost “. I remind those gentlemen that the Auditor-General refers to it as a loss. But whether it be a cost or a loss, in the final analysis the money has to come out of public funds. I sincerely trust that the Treasurer will take note of this particular item of expenditure, because, as 1 have asked previously, how can we expect the public to take seriously our request that austerity shall be practised, when money is lost in this way?
The criticisms of the Auditor-General emphasize the need for the adoption of the suggestion that I made to the Prime Minister some time ago, that that officer should submit to this Parliament interim reports upon the public accounts. It is absurd that honorable members should have to wait for nine months after the close of the financial year to learn the exact position of a number of matters, particularly the irregularities referred to in the annual report.
.- The first protest that I voice is against the n on- representation on a number of boards of organizations which are rendering a great service, not only to this country, but also to practically all civilized countries in the world. Because of the neglect of past governments, as well as the present Government, the great co-operative movement in this country is not represented on bodies such as the Prices Commission and the boards which control food generally, and. particularly tea, tobacco and dried fruits. I have made special representations to the Government. The co-operative movement has approximately 500,000 subscribers in this country. It thrives particularly well in industrial centres, and its sole purpose is to trade for the benefit of its members, without making a profit. It sells commodities at cost price, plus working expenses. Admittedly, at the time of the sales, the price is probably the same as that charged in ordinary retail stores, but every six months, when a balance is taken, any surplus standing to the credit of the society is handed back to the shareholders in the form of rebates on goods purchased. The Labour party has always advocated socialization of industry. Well, here is an example of socialism in practice. Nevertheless, the co-operative movement has been encouraged by all governments because it knows no politics. In Great Britain, the cooperative movement has grown enormously, its annual turnover being over £300,000,000. The movement in Australia acts as agent for the British Cooperative “Wholesale Society, which now owns its own tea plantation, its own farms, and its own mines. The societies in Western Australia and New South Wales have asked for representation on these various boards. Their treatment here is very different from the treatment accorded to the co-operative societies in England during the last war, when the chairman of the British Co-operative Wholesale Society was Director of Food Control. The co-operative movement in Australia should certainly have representation on the Prices Commission. The consuming public is not represented on any of the boards to which I -have referred. Instead, they have on them such men as Sir Marcus Clark and Mr. Norman Myer, of the great Myer Emporium, in Melbourne. The co-operative movement could, because of its extensive organization, be of great service to the Government during this time. I know that in the Treasurer’s own electorate there is an important co-operative society which carries on business in Lithgow and adjacent towns. The letters C.W.S. stand for the words Co-operative Wholesale Society. On one occasion we held a competition for the best slogan employing those initial letters, and the prize went to the boy who submitted the following: “ Co-operation : Workers’ Salvation “. When a social order changes over from capitalism to socialism, as happened in Russia, those who have had experience in the running of co-operative societies are able to render great assistance to the authorities. In Russia, the administration of whole provinces was handed over to such men. In Australia, the Government has appointed as members of various boards representatives of capitalism who are bitterly opposed to the co-operative movement.
This is the second occasion only since this Government has been in office that I have spoken on the motion for the adjournment of the House. One does not obtain much satisfaction from bringing matters up at this time. I know that my words will be forgotten very soon. The
Treasurer, who is in charge of the House, will make some reply, and that will be the end of it. I do not raise matters in the House until after I have brought them before the departments concerned and have been unable to obtain satisfaction. The matter which I now wish to bring under the notice of the Government affects a section of the community which is rendering a wonderful service to Australia in .the interests of education, though it receives no State subsidy. Some time ago, the Roman Catholic school at Cardiff, in my electorate, was destroyed by fire. The church authorities are not asking for government assistance ; all they want is permission to rebuild, but this permission has been refused by the Department of War Organization of Industry. I have made representations to the Minister on this subject without success. I know that he is a much abused man, and I have no wish to heap further ridicule upon him. He has to accept responsibility for the decisions of the Production Committee, and often he has manfully, taken the blame for decisions with which he was not personally concerned. The 400 pupils who were attending the Roman Catholic school at Cardiff are now being taught in an abandoned motor garage. A part of the building is not even provided with sides, and the structure has been condemned by the Lake Macquarie Shire Council as unfit for occupation. The estimated cost of a new building is £7,174. As I have said, the Minister for War Organization of Industry will not give permission for the erection of the building although, if it were a State school, permission would have to be given even if it were proposed to expend £10,000. To build a school for the education of these Roman Catholic children would cost £8,000 at the most. I have approached the Minister for War Organization of Industry about this matter, not once or twice but about nine times. I have shown as much perseverance as Robert the Bruce in trying to convince the Minister of the necessity for him to give way, but he is adamant. He says that he cannot give way and that if he did the Director-General of Allied Works, Mr. Theodore, and all the rest who are demanding workmen for essential war projects would be down on him like a ton of bricks.
Mr.mcewen. - He will eventually give way as he gave way on the “ Victory “ suits.
– I hope so. In his last letter to me he indicated that the school authorities could erect the basement - half the building. The . cost of doing that would be £5,074 according to the advice of the Minister’s architect. The Minister allows that that is only £2,100 less than the cost of the complete building. That amount of £5,074 includes the cost of a concrete ceiling to the basement. I shall now read extracts from a letter that I have received from the Reverend Father Puntill of Saint Kevin’s Presbytery, Cardiff-
I am sorry to trouble you again, still I must try and get the Government to be reasonable to our request.
Our present conditions have been condemned by the local government authorities - Lake Macquarie Shire - we will, I suppose, have about three’ months to vacate the present sheds used as a school.
I am in receipt ofa letter from Mr. Dedman - quite a number of copies of this letter have been received by various people here in Cardiff. I am to say the least more than a little surprised atthis letter.
The Minister refers to the cost of the building as £7,174 - does he realize that the tendered cost of his department’s “ basement plan “ is £5,074- only a difference of £2,100 - this includes of course the concrete ceiling in this basement which will eventually be the floor of the school proper. If this were omitted a further saving of £979 must be added to the above figure of £2,100.
But against this we point out the following waste of money to carry out Mr. Dedman’s suggestion of the basement would involve a temporary wooden wall and partitions, costing £465. Also malthoid would have to be used on the flat roof to avoid leakage, etc., this adds another £210, a total of £675. Some of the studs may be of use afterwards, but here again the cost of saving is offset by the cost of labour in pulling down and re-erecting. We may almost say we are asked to waste or throw away a £1,000, yet Mr. Dedman in his latest letter says we must economize, is this the way to do it?
Again, if we follow this basement plan, when the war is over and this department a memory, the re-building of the school will leave us without a school for some weeks if not months.
That is perfectly true because the children would not be able to occupy the school during the period of alterations -
The walls and floor of the existing basement would bo damaged, if not destroyed in parts by placing this concrete floor in position, water, gravel, sand, &c., are not preservatives for tallow wood floors or plaster walls; and what about the new furniture of the school, it too will be ruined. No wonder we do not see our way clear to agree to a plan that means without any other consideration the waste and destruction of so much.
Mr. Dedman says I do not appreciate all the difficulties. I fully appreciate the present times, but the publication of the AuditorGeneral’s report, especially his remarks about the waste of money on any foolish scheme. The Minister also refers to the fact that I am asking for a building with six times the floor-space of the old one.
The Minister for War Organization of Industry does not take into account the fact that when the school was erected 50 years ago, Cardiff was a tiny village with a population of no more than 200, whereas to-day it is a town with a population of at least 7,000, because not only have the Newcastle railway workshops and sheds been shifted to Cardiff, but also munitions annexes have been placed at those workshops. Yet, the Minister criticises the proposal that the new school be larger than the old -
Surely, Mr. James, the Minister must realize we cannot compare a building; over or about 50 years of age with a present-day building - we are building not only for the present day - but with a keen eye to the future, you know this area and the advancement that must come very soon in this particular area.
Surely the Government as a whole is not serious in asking us to deliberately waste money - and place our children in conditions not much better than those already condemned by the local powers.
We feel this matter and unnecessary delay very keenly, we speak for almost 40,000 Catholics in this section of Maitland, they all have their friends of other denominations; they, too, are disgusted with the attitude of the Government towards us in this matter of national importance. We are educating the future citizens of this country, and is the charge to be laid at the door of the Government of the day, that they were the cause of ruining their health and chance in life. [Extension of time granted.]
– I suppose that the authorities will want them to fight when they turn 18.
– Yes. A lot of Cardiff’s young men have been taken into the forces, and the brothers and sisters of many of them are being denied the right to be educated in comfort. The Newcastle Herald and the Newcastle Sun, copies of which may be seen in the Library, contain photographs of these unhappy children sitting at their lessons almost unprotected from the elements. They will not be allowed to remain in them during the winter because the council has condemned them and they have to bc vacated by the end of the month. Are these children to be then denied the right of education ? The local member in the State Parliament, Mr. Booth, has attended meetings of protest and inspected these buildings. His reactions are described in the letter -
Mr. Booth, M.L.A., has said publicly that no public servant would work, or be allowed to work in such conditions. What arc we to think of the Government that forces this on to defenceless children and their teachers?
This matter is being taken up throughout the Commonwealth by Catholic and nonCatholic, all of whom I can truly say are most indignant with the attitude of this particular department. Will this do the great cause of Labour any good?
Apparently, he is a Labour man. I am glad of that -
We consider that if Mr. Dedman, through his department, considers that the saving of somewhere between £1,500 and £2,000 is vital to the war - then the same department should allow us to build the main school and leave out the basement. I would agree to this, but never to the basement plan. This is not only ny opinion but that of educational authorities, architects, builders, mcn of note in the community and last and not least the ordinary mau about the street. Docs Mr. Dedman want me to erect a sign on the condemned buildings for all the world to sec: “ These Australian children were deprived of a school by Mr. Dedman, during the reign of the Curtin Government”. It does not read well, nor would I like to do it, but Mr. James, we have had enough time wasted by this department to build half-a-dozen schools. I nsk you to treat this matter as urgent - it appears to be of little use seeing this particular Minister. Surely others have some say with the Prime Minister. Cannot this be made a real case for his personal intervention ?
N.B. - Wc are not asking for money - I am able to borrow more than I need for this building.
I do not want, to be misunderstood in this matter. I am not a Roman Catholic; but I have sufficient courage to protest against an injustice being done to any section of the community. An injustice is being done to these people, although they have been rendering a service to the country in the educational field, and, in doing so, have relieved the country of considerable expense. Some people might be inclined to say that these children can be sent to the public schools. However, the public schools in this area are so congested that they would not be able to accommodate them. At all events, this denomination, on religious grounds, maintains its own schools. Its members have a right to their beliefs. They have the right of freedom of worship. I shall fight on behalf of any section of the community for the recognition of such rights. The members of this denomination have a right to bring up their children in accordance with their religious beliefs. No section of the community has any right to dictate to another section in that respect. These people are not asking for charity, but for justice for these children. I regret very much that I have been obliged to bring this matter before the House. I do so simply because I have failed to convince the Minister. He has told me that it is a matter for the Production Executive. I agree with the writer of the letter which I have just read that the subject has now become one for the Government itself, and I ask the Minister for the Army, who is in charge of the House, to refer it to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). I know that the Prime Minister is fully occupied upon urgent business, but this matter is of great importance, as it affects the welfare of children who some day will become citizens of this country.
.- Apparently the Government recognizes the seriousness of the problem which has arisen in relation to the supplies of malt. It has appointed a special committee to endeavour to conserve present stocks, and to evolve ways of increasing the supply. However, an important aspect of the general problem seems to have been overlooked. I have not noticed any official reference to it. Malt is a product of barley; and those interested in the malting business have represented to me that the shortage of man-power, which so far has been stressed as the principal cause of the shortage of malt, is in itself of little consequence unless provision be made to ensure the production of sufficient malting harley. One of the leading maltsters in Melbourne writes to me as follows: -
We must not lose sight of the fact that if the industry is to be carried on it is impossible for it to do so under present conditions. For the 1941-42 crop to date, sixteen mouths after harvesting, the grower has received 2s. (id. per bushel less an average deduction of 9d. per bushel for sacks and freight, which leaves a net return of ls. 9d. per bushel. Out of these advances he is expected to take off the crop, sow the 1942-43 crop, reap it later in the year, and generally carry on, which you will realize, I think, is completely impossible. The Minister knows that this crop is being bought up now in very large quantities by the maltsters, and as far as cun be ascertained every bushel of malting barley in sight will bo required before this time next year, and that is why we ure so anxious that some declaration should be made immediately as we have now reached the time when the next crop should be sown.
Is it any wonder that barley growing is becoming more and more unpopular amongst farmers? We can visualize very clearly that the industry will come to a complete standstill next year if these conditions are perpetuated. For the .1942-43 crop the first advance was ls. 1 1 ti. per bushel, less again the 9d. for sacks and freight, and this has given the growers a greater set-back than over. It is hard to understand why the Government hesitates to grant a payable price for barley, as the loss to them in excise alone, through the extreme likelihood of the cessation of barley-growing, would be very considerable.
I was present by invitation for a short time at a conference called by the Australian Agricultural Council towards the end of last month when certain propositions were put forward, but of course so far nothing has been done. lt is very little use discussing the question of man-power in the malting industry, or any other aspect of it, unless some scheme is developed which will be attractive for the barley grower, as with wheat at 4s. per bushel for the first 3,000 bushels, barley takes a very secondary position.
I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to bring this matter to the notice of the appropriate Minister. The views I have read indicate a fundamental difficulty in relation to this general problem. Obviously, if sufficient barley be not grown we shall not be able to manufacture enough malt to meet our requirements. I. urge the appropriate Minister to weigh carefully the views of the maltster which I have just read. He is recognized as a leading authority in the trade.
– A few days ago I asked the Minister for the Army (Ma-. Forde) a series of questions with regard to youths being sent to New Guinea. One of those questions was -
Is it a fact that some youths under twenty years of ago have been sent to New Guinea from the mainland of Australia in recent months in defiance of the Minister’s instructions ?
The Minister’s reply to the question was “ No “. I say equally emphatically that youths under twenty years of ago have been sent to New Guinea in recent weeks - one might say within recent days - in defiance of the Minister’s instructions. I hope that in the future the Minister will ensure that his departmental officers do not furnish him with inaccurate answers to questions asked by honorable members. Occasionally, I have been a critic of the Department of the Army. I wish that I could regard it a little more charitably ; but answers of the kind which I have just read indicate the official mind towards questions asked by honorable members.
I now direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Mr, Makin) to the existence of a farcical position which prevents the enlistment of a young man, Mr. Keith Repacholi. He made application to enter the Navy, but because he owed money to the Commissioners of the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia, lie has been refused permission to join. He cannot discharge his obligations to the bank, as many other people cannot do, because he borrowed money for a long period, and cannot repay the whole of the loan at short notice. If he were able to discharge his debt there would be no obstacle to his enlistment in the Navy. This position is farcical, and I hope that the Minister will see that his department ignores the request of any financial institution to prevent a man from serving his country, because he happens to owe money to it. If enlistment in the Army, or conscription for military service were determined by a man’s financial position, there would be very fewsoldiers in the Australian Military Forces.
You, Mr. Speaker, will remember a series of questions which I asked, with some difficulty, in this chamber. I was not allowed to read a number of telegrams; I succeeded in reading only the fl rat one, but I was able to give a digest of the information supplied to me by the representatives of the workers in the Civil Constructional Corps at Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory. As the result of representations made by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) and myself, two statements were made in this chamber, one by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the other by the Minister for Home Security (Mt. Lazzarini) on behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings). Those statements sought to show that the claims of the workers were without foundation, and that the dissension which existed among them was unjustified. After a considerable lapse of time because of transport delays, I have now been supplied with a statement setting out the- case for the men. As the Ministers’ statements have been recorded in Hansard, I shall read the views of the representatives o£ the men regarding the position. The letter, which is dated the 11th March, is addressed to me -
We five delegates, representing the interests of 400 Civil Construction Corps men working in the Northern Territory under thu control of the Country Roads Board, do on their behalf protest most strongly against the action of the Allied Works Council in the breaking of agreements with the men.
We are in possession of ample evidence to back up our statement that a vast majority of the men have been grossly misled. The men have been prepared to stand in to the war effort to the very best of their ability, as is instanced by the hours worked over the past few months, and the amount of work completed in that time.
They have, with the exception of cases of ill health, been prepared to stand behind their side of the agreement, but after having almost completed their period of service under the agreement, they find that it is not to be honoured. This state of affairs is most discouraging to th’e men and is a very definite source of dissension amongst them.
We might mention instances of men arriving in the territory as late as 21st February, 1043, being told in Melbourne prior to leaving that the duration of their stay would not exceed six months, but on arrival are informed that the period is for twelve months.
The reasons put forward as justification for breaking the agreements are, firstly, transport difficulties. How then is it that we see military convoys returning to Alice Springs every day empty, and have cases of men returning south by rail in trains by no means filled to capacity, and in some cases with whole compartments to themselves? Secondly, shortage of man-power. For many months past we have laboured under the impression that this was an undertaking of the utmost urgency and importance, and have responded to that idea, yet we consider that the suggestion of a shortage of man-power constitutes a direct contradiction to the drastic reduction of working hours which took place some short time ago. Again we can supply instances of works in progress in the north which are definitely overstaffed.
Without further labouring the question wc would again like to emphasize that we are solidly behind the war effort, and in being so we are of the opinion that to obtain the maximum efficiency it is necessary that they obtain “leave every six months to recuperate both physically and mentally.
After perusing the facts set down here your interest in this matter would be appreciated.
The signatories are L. G. Taylor, J. Hollow, J. H. Miller, A. G. Garner and John Egan. A copy of this letter has been forwarded to the Prime Minister, the Director-General of the Allied Works Council, Mr. Theodore, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), and the honorable member for Bourke. On the previous occasion, the Prime Minister argued with me regarding the merits of the men’s case. Having heard what the right honorable gentleman and the Minister for Home Security had to say about the matter, and having since had an opportunity to read the views of the men, I definitely assert my opinion that the men have a grievance, which should be rectified without delay. What the Minister for Home Security said did not answer their contentions.
I have received from the honorary solicitors for the Victorian section of the Ex-Navalmen’s Association a letter in reference to Mr. Robert George Anslow who was formerly a member of the Royal Australian Navy. He served with distinction in the Navy for a considerable period, but he was discharged because the medical officers considered that he was suffering from a strange complaint known as lymphatic leukaemia. This is a blood condition, which is always fatal, in a period of from three to six months. That diagnosis was definitely wrong. Mr. Anslow is now employed as a senior examiner in the Naval Inspection Branch of munitions establishments in
Victoria. He is a capable man, and is physically fit. Although the medical diagnosis of his condition was erroneous, he is not permitted to rejoin the Navy and he receives no compensation. Consequently, he considers that he has a grievance. I bring this matter to the attention of the House, because the position is farcical if, in those circumstances, a man has no redress. An ordinary blood test would have proved whether he was suffering from this extraordinarily rare disease, but no such test was made. The whole matter seems to have been handled in a very slipshod fashion, and this former member of the forces has not been treated fairly. I understand that the Naval Board subsequently declared that he had been suffering not from acute lymphatic leukaemia, which affects the lymphatic glands in the neck, but from a form of glandular fever. I ask the Minister for the Navy to re-examine this case in order to ensure that justice is done.
.- I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) whether he read in to-day’s issue of the Daily Telegraph an article entitled “ “Unemployment Insurance Bill Soon “ ? The article stated, inter alia -
The Federal Government plans to introduce a comprehensive unemployment insurance bill in June.
I do not think that I can be accused of being unduly finical when I object to the wording of the following announcement in the press: -
It is understood that the bill is based on reports by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Security, and that there will be very little departure from the committee’s recommendations.
I do not know whether the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) has made a statement to the press about this matter.
– No statement has been made.
– The Social Security Committee has certainly made no recommendation regarding unemployment insurance. It did make one relating to the payment of unemployment allowances or benefits, but I do not wish it to go out to the public that it has recommended anything in the nature of an insurance scheme based on a contract system whereby the insured person makes contributions to the cost. It is perfectly true that the unemployment benefits which the committee recommended in its report were to be based on the ability of the person concerned to pay a graduated tax. That recommendation was accepted by the ‘Government, and the necessary measures have been already passed by Parliament. I emphasize that no unemployment insurance scheme has been included in the reports and recommendations of the Social Security Committee. Notwithstanding anything that has appeared in the press, the Treasurer has now assured me that the Minister for Social Services made no statement to the press, so that what has been published is a figment of its imagination. I hope that before the press again publishes reports referring to the Social Security Committee it Will first obtain the facts and be clear as to what really appears in the committee’s reports.
A burning subject which I have mentioned several times in the House and which has been the cause of a good deal of controversy during recent months is the price of firewood. I have been supplied with voluminous answers to the questions I have asked in the House, but despite their volume they are most unsatisfactory. The Prices Commissioner does not seem to have the position clearly in his mind. He says that the price of firewood has not gone up by over 75 per cent, as I claim that it has. He deliberately says that the quantity of wood now supplied is 80 feet to the measured ton, instead of 50 feet as previously, which brings the increase in price down by 33i per cent. The Prices Commissioner is very badly misinformed if he is under the impression that the ton measurement supplied in Launceston is 80 feet. My information is that 50 or 60 feet of firewood has always been the recognized ton and that that figure still prevails. I was given information in Launceston at the week-end as to what a particular firm has to pay, and what profit is made out of firewood by its supplier. For 4 tons of firewood cut a day, he pays 7s. a ton for cutting, and ls. for royalty. A 6-ton truck at £1 2s. 6d. a ton returns £6 15s. a load. The cost of 6 tons at Ss. a ton is £2 Ss. The driver gets 7s. a load for four loads, 40 miles and return, which with other expenses comes to about £2, and therefore the profit works out at about £2 10s. a load. He does four loads a day, »o that the supplier’s profit is about £10 a day. I do not know what the Prices Commissioner bases his information upon. It is said that the price has been determined by the State Government. I do not know whether that is so or not, but I am positive that the price of firewood in Launceston has increased by over 80 per cent, in the last two years. Although the industry was a sweated one previously, I am satisfied that all the increased cost is not accounted for by the increased margin paid to the wood-cutter, and the enhanced price of petrol or the cost of fitting producer-gas units, as the Prices Commissioner suggests. I have not been able to consult any documents about this matter, but I am most dissatisfied with the position, and have told the Prices Commissioner so. In this instance, I believe that somebody is getting a rake-off at the expense of the poorer section of the community, and I enter a very emphatic protest against the continuance of the practice.
– Some time ago the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked rae at question-time whether I would make a brief statement in regard to the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. I take this late opportunity of doing so. The Government’s objective in post-war planning is to place the Australian economy quickly and smoothly on a peace-time basis and at the same time give effect to our long-term aims of greater security and rising living standards. The Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction has accordingly been established to serve as a focus for Australian reconstruction planning. Its task will be to see that a clear policy is worked out, that plans are drawn up embodying definite proposals, and that appropriate executive agencies are ready to carry out the plans. The Ministry is intended to give to reconstruction that continuous drive which will be necessary if practical results are to be achieved. It is setting to work now, in collaboration with the service departments and other appropriate agencies, to work out a scheme for the post-war training and re-employment of members of the forces. On the 2nd March, War Cabinet approved a reconstruction training, scheme. Under this scheme, certain broad classes of servicemen will beeligible to be selected for full or parttime professional or vocational training,, according to their special abilities and prospects of employment in the callings chosen by them. Plans are now being drawn up to give effect to this scheme. But these plans for training and placement will be of no avail unless the Australian economy is organized so as to give productive employment for servicemen and civilians alike. Special commissions are being set up, as an integral part of the reconstruction organization, to investigate and report upon the most important economic aspects of reconstruction.
The Rural Reconstruction Commission was set up in February and is now carrying out investigations of the post-war rehabilitation of primary industries. Mr. F. J. S. Wise is chairman of this commission, the other members beingMr. C. R. Lambert, Mr. J. F. Murphy and Professor S. M. Wadham.
I shall, within a few days, announcethe appointment of a Housing Commission. This commission will be concerned solely with planning for post-war- housing^ and the War Workers HousingTrust of the Department of Labour and National Service will continue to be responsible for the war-time housing of war workers. The commission will, in collaboration with State authorities, piara the measures necessary to overtake the grave housing shortage which ha3 developed since the depression and more particularly during the war. Similar commissions to plan for national works and post-war development of secondary industries will be set up in the near future.
The work, of these commissions is: being very closely linked with that of the department, which is essentially a planning and co-ordinating rather than. an executive department. Arrangements are .already being made to ensure effective collaboration with other Commonwealth departments and with the State Governments. It will be able, with the aid of the commissions’ reports, to advise the Government on the best means of ensuring that public and private enterprise shall co-operate effectively in promoting the post-war economic development of Australia.
– “Will the Treasure] make a statement to the House later, and enable the matter to be debated?
– If an opportunity offers I shall present a longer statement on another occasion, if the honorable member desires to discuss the matter.
– Will the appointment of the housing authority be announced soon?
– Yes. . In reply to the question raised by the. honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), special arrangements are being made with regard to the production .of malting barley, apart from ordinary barley, of which, I understand, an excess quantity is stored. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to youths having been sent on active service overseas at an earlier age than that promised. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has said that he has discussed the matter personally with the honorable member for Melbourne. Therefore, I understand, that all of the facts have been placed before him.
Reference has been made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) to the Auditor-General’s annual report. One complaint was that copies of the report had not been made available to honorable members. Immediately the report was presented, a certain number of copies was ordered, but, unf ortunately, the Government Printing Office is seriously handicapped by a shortage of labour. So difficult is the position that printing contracts have been let to outside firms to enable some of the work to be done with reasonable expedition.
– We should be given an opportunity to discuss that matter when the Parliament reassembles.
– Yes. The other matters mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley have been closely examined by the Department of the Treasury. Some of them have been taken up previously, either by the Treasury or by the Business Board, the chairman of which is a capable ex-Minister who was formerly a member of the .Senate. 1 refer to Sir George Pearce, who is” well qualified to supervise the investigations entrusted to the board. It cannot be denied that, particularly since Japan came into the war, important national projects have been put in hand with great speed, and the check over expenditure that would be made in ordinary circumstances has not been possible. In some instances preparatory work has been commenced even before plans for the work have been prepared. Reference has been made to the costing system adopted in various factories. It is very difficult in these times to make a complete check of all accounts, although it is highly desirable to do that where possible. With regard to some of the matters mentioned by the Auditor-General, I hope to improve the existing system. Much work has been done for the Commonwealth Government by State instrumentalities, and the governments of the States, through those instrumentalities, become agents for the Commonwealth Government.
– The Commonwealth’ Government finds the money.
– Yes, but we pay it to the governments of the States, which make the necessary arrangements for the work to be done. The State instrumentalities, therefore, are under the supervision of the Auditors-General of - the States. These are reliable officers, who, if, in normal times, the Commonwealth Auditor-‘General refused to accept their certificates, would regard that as a reflection upon them. The Commonwealth makes payments to the States on the certificates of the State AuditorsGeneral, which have been presented to the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth. The remarks made by the honorable member for Lilley on this matter recently have been studied, and the points raised by him are being examined.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to a statement in the press about unemployment insurance. The Government has no intention to introduce any form of unemployment insurance, but I hope that when the Parliament reassembles I shall be in a position to introduce an unemployment and sickness benefit scheme. As I have already indicated, this will not be a contributory insurance scheme, but one of the schemes for which the National Welfare Fund was established. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked a question about building permits, which come under the jurisdiction of the Minister for War Organization of Industry. I shall ask that Minister to give his attention to the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Bankruptcy Act - Fourteenth Annual Report by Attorney-General, for year ended 31st July, 1942.
National Security Act - National Security ( General ) Regulations - Orders -
Taking possession of land, &c. (46).
Use of land (8).
House adjourned at 5.48 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Airscrew Annexe : Auditor-General’s Comments.
– On the 25th March the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked me, without notice, a question concerning the policy adopted in relation to the call-up of proprietors of one-man businesses. The particular examples to which he referred in his question have been brought to my attention and will be the subject of special inquiry.
So far as the general question is concerned, the honorable member is informed that the policy as regards this matter has not varied since July, 1942. In general, working principals are exempted from call-up, but this provision has had to be regulated to prevent abuses in the following way: -
Butchering, baking, milk vending, chemistry (pharmaceutical), dentistry, grocers, farriering, harnessmaking - All ages.
Hairdressing, greengrocers, carrying, taxi-owner driving, small goods, boot repairing, newsagents, wood and coal, ice vendors, restaurant proprietors, retail fish shops - Age 30 and over with the exception of men in military classes 1 and 2.
The Deputy Directors-General of Man Power in all States have been working on this basis since the beginning of August, 1942. They have, of course, general discretion in cases which appear to merit special attention.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Germany and how was it apportioned; (b) how much of this amount was paid to the CommonwealthBank and under what authority?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n-Hughes asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Allied Works Council: Local Bodies and Road Machinery.
n. - On the 28th January and the 18th February, 1943, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) brought to my notice questions regarding the delay in payment for road-making machinery impressed or hired by the Allied Works Council and the return of such machinery to the shire councils concerned.
Inquiries have been made regarding the two cases mentioned by him relating to the Biggenden and Strathpine shires. A report received from the Director-General of Allied Works indicates that the Biggenden grader was employed on works at Longreach from the 27th August, 1942, to the 14th November, 1942, when it was put in the workshop for repairs. The necessary parts did not arrive until the 10th February last and on the 12th idem the grader was transferred to Blackall to fill the place of an Allied Works Council grader which had broken down there. The engineer in charge of the plant was instructed to see that payment was made from the time the grader was hired until it was released, and on the 4th March all hire due on the grader and caravan had been paid in accordance with the agreement for hire. The Biggenden Shire grader was not impressed but hired. The Strathpine grader, which had been impressed from the Pine Shire Council, was paid for in August, 1942, the price being £492.
In exercising the powers granted under the Requisitioning of Earth Moving Plant Order, the policy of the Allied Works Council was to permit the various State road-constructing authorities to retain sufficient plant to maintain essentia 1 roads. Having regard to this policy, it is considered that the Deputy DirectorGeneral of Allied Works, Queensland, who is also Commissioner for Main Roads, Queensland, is in the best possible position to determine the claims submitted by the various shire councils in Queensland for release of plant. In these instances he has not recommended that the plant referred to be released.
Call-up ok Student Teachers.
Mr. JAMES asked the Minister for Labour and National Service the following question, upon notice -
Will the Minister inform me whether the mail-power authorities are calling up for military service youths in their second year at the Teachers Training College? If so, does he not consider that this action will detrimentally affect not only the youths who are now completing their education, but also the education of the children? The shortage of school teachers is acute in New South Wales, because many of them have already enlisted for military service.
– I have received the following report from the Director-General of Man Power : -
It is a fact that it is proposed to call up student teachers in their second year at the Teachers Training College. The position, however, is that liability for call-up does not arise until the student attains the agc of eighteen years, and those who attain that, age after the opening of the college during their second year, are allowed to finish their year of training, before entering on military service. Those who have been awarded scholarships will be required to comply with the military call-up but the scholarship will be reserved for them on their return from military duties.
These students suffer no greater disability than others whose studies or careers are necessarily interrupted by compliance with their military obligations.
The call-up of teachers in New South Wales is undertaken by the Man Power Directorate in full consultation with the educational authorities in that State and every precaution is taken to ensure that the welfare of the children is not prejudiced.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service the following questions, upon notice -
– This question relates to matters which are the concern of the Department of the Army and the Department of Supply and Shipping, from whom the necessary information has been obtained and the following replies are mow furnished : -
Between G p.m. and midnight Monday to Friday, time and a half; between midnight and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday, double time; between noon Saturday and midnight Saturday and between midnight Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, double time. Ordinary holidays - Between midnight and 7 a.m., double time and a half; between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., time and a half; between 5 p.m. and midnight, double time. Sundays and extra-ordinary holidays (Christmas Day, Good Friday, Eight Hour Day, Picnic Day) between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday and between midnight and midnight on extra-ordinary holidays, double time and a half.
Australian Army: Malaria Sufferers.
e. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) addressed a question, without notice, to the Prime Minister, in my absence, asking whether it was a fact that personnel who have returned from New Guinea suffering from malaria had, on recovery, been returned direct to New Guinea without being granted home leave.
I now desire to advise the honorable member that this is a fact. Such members are eligible to receive leave when in hospital if it is considered that the grant of such leave will assist in treatment. Apart from cases of special emergency, those are the only circumstances in which they are eligible for leave before return to their units. They will receive normal home leave with the other members of their units when their units are relieved.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 April 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430401_reps_16_174/>.