16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without requests: -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1943-44. Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment)
Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943. Customs Tariff (Special WaT Duty)
Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943. Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference)
Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943. Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference)
Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943. Excise Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1943.
-I present a petition from certain electors of tie Division of Henty, praying for the removal of restrictions placed on the purchase and sale of bread.
Petition received and read.
Returned Soldier Temporary EMPLOYEES
– I understand that the Commonwealth Public- Service Act makes it possible for returned soldiers of the last war who are temporarily employed in the Commonwealth Public Service in certain categories to be given permanent status after they have had continuous service for two years. Will the Prime Minister consider the extension of this privilege to returned soldiers of the present war, who, I understand, will be excluded from it, failing an amendment of the act?
– The law is as the honorable gentleman has stated it to be; but the practice is to treat soldiers of the present war as though they had served in the last war.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in view of his statement to the House yesterday that the general question of defence policy of the country is a matter for Parliament and the people and not for any judiciary, what steps he proposes to take in order to ensure that the public shall secure, before the elections, the fullest information regarding the Menzies-Fadden defence policy, which the right honorable gentleman himself has described as defeatist, and which I have repeatedly charged with embodying “ the Brisbane line “ plan to abandon a part of Australia to the enemy 1
– I shall take whatever steps I regard as proper in order to inform the Australian public as fully as security considerations permit in respect of the problems of government.
Bauxite Deposit at Tambourine Mountain - Ingot Industry in Tasmania.
– Some time ago, an Australia-wide inquiry was made concerning the quantity and quality of - the bauxite deposits in Australia. The report that was presented referred to the very high quality of bauxite that had been discovered at Tambourine Mountain. Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping state what progress has been made with the use of this bauxite for the manufacture of aluminium for war and other purposes ?
– The honorable member’s question involves what may be regarded as a final decision by the Government in connexion with the manufacture of aluminium in Australia. It is true, as he has said, that the bauxite obtained from the district he has named is of high quality. The Government has just reached the stage of makins; a final decision in connexion with the aluminium project, but its plans have in a certain degree been temporarily deranged by the political circumstances that have recently arisen. I hope that we shall very soon be able to embark on the scheme.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is proposed to take any steps, before the termination of this Parliament, to’ establish the aluminium industry in Tasmania?
– The Government has made a long study of the aluminium ingot industry, and many things will have to be done before the industry can be established in Tasmania. Having regard to present circumstances, Cabinet is of the opinion that the proposals for the establishment of this industry should be the subject of a bill introduced in Parliament. I do not propose to submit such a bill during this session.
Relief to MEMBERS of SERVICES
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Government will consider the granting of financial relief to those members of the fighting services who are members of building societies, to enable them to continue to meet the instalments for which they are liable under the terms of the mortgages that are held on their homes, which instalments they cannot now meet on account of the reduction of their incomes? Will the honorable gentleman consider the advisability of following the example of the Government of New Zealand, which provides relief in such circumstances? Alternatively, will he consider the desirability of allowing building societies to pass on the liability to the financial institutions which provide them with the necessary overdrafts?
– The granting of assistance to soldiers on the lines adopted by the Government of New Zealand has been examined and considered, but no policy has yet been framed. Consideration has not so far been given to the transfer of the liability as suggested, but I shall look into the matter.
– Has the Prime Minister received from Perth a report concerning a strike of bakers, which I believe is still unsettled although it is in its twelfth day? Is the right honorable gentleman taking steps to apply the regulations relating to strikes, or any other steps designed to end this strike?
– As I view the matter from Canberra, the facts in regard to the baking dispute in Perth, if there is a dispute, are somewhat obscure. The Department of Labour and National Service is handling the matter. The regulations in respect of strikes are intended to operate when strikes exist. According to my information, the greater number of both employers and employees in the baking industry in Perth are carrying on their operations. I cannot say -whether or not that information is correct.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping prepared to make a statement concerning the release of civilian clothing requirements for the State of Queensland, in response to representations that have been made to him by Labour members of this House?
– The matter of supplying additional clothing to Queensland has been under consideration. I considered it necessary to send recently to Queensland two specialists of my department, for the purpose of making a survey and setting up an advisory committee representing all the interests in the trade. Upon an examination of the position it was found urgently necessary to release immediately in Queensland quite a large number of garments. We have temporarily suspended the manufacture of military garments in Queensland so as to concentrate on the production of clothing for civilian needs. I have the figures regarding the number of garments made, and I shall be pleased to make them available to honorable members.
“THE BRISBANE LINE.”
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to inform the House of the result of his bringing to the notice of the proper authorities the matter raised here on Friday last regarding the publication of the map relating to “ the Brisbane line” by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) ? If so, will he make a statement to the House indicating what action it is proposed to take?
– I have not yet received the report from the officers on the subject. Until I get it I shall be unable to say what should be done.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Information aware that, on the 18th March last, the Brisbane Telegraph published a map depicting the line of defence now referred to as “ the Brisbane line and indicating that portion of Australia which was to have been abandoned, in view of the need to advise the public fully in respect of this important matter? Will the honorable gentleman arrange for the republication of the map in question with a view to its wide circulation?
– I have no information in regard to the matter which the honorable member has raised, but I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for Information.
– Having regard to the failure of the State governments to ratify the agreement reached at the Constitution Convention for the granting of additional powers to the Commonwealth Government, does the Government propose, during the forthcoming general elections, to ask the people by way of referendum for the powers agreed upon at the Constitution Convention, or even for greater powers ?
– In order to submit the question to the people of Australia, it would be necessary for this Parliament to pass a referendum bill. That involves questions of policy, and it is not proposed to ask Parliament to deal with matters of policy, having regard to the intimation which I gave last week. It is not intended, prior to the assembling of the new Parliament, to submit the matter of increased constitutional powers to the people.
– hy leave - I am sure honorable members would wish me to refer to the recent announcement that the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) and the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell) do not propose to contest the forthcoming general elections and that, as a consequence, they will not be with us again. I regret very much that the honorable member for Darwin left here last week not feeling well, and that I was not able ‘to make reference in his presence to his distinguished public service, and to express the appreciation of honorable members of the manner in which as Speaker for six years, he had presided over the deliberations of this House. I am sure that honorable members wish me to pay tribute to a man who, in private and military life, and as a member of this Parliament, has rendered great service to the people of Australia. I feel sure that I express the wishes of all honorable members when I say that I regret that ill health has caused him to make this decision. We sincerely hope that his health will be speedily restored, and that many years of usefulness and happiness lie before him.
We have admired the way in which the honorable member for Gippsland has discharged his public duties, whether as a Minister of the Crown or as a private member. He has always managed to speak in a way that has elicited the deep interest and respect of all honorable members. I cannot remember any occasion upon which the honorable member has participated in what the newspapers describe as a “ scene “. I know no more courteous gentleman, nor any honorable member who has been more genuinely devoted to the service of Australia. I regret very much that, because of the state of his health, he has decided to retire from this Parliament. I am pleased to be able to express my own view that his health is now a good deal better than it was a little while ago. I wish to convey to him our hope that his retirement from the work of Parliament will not mean that he will cease to fill some important place in the service of the Australian people. I express the wish that he has long years of health and happiness before him.
– hy leave - Members of the Opposition join with me in expressing appreciation of the kindly and sincere sentiments of the Prime Minister- (Mr. Curtin) on the ere of retirement from political life of the honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). As one associated with these gentlemen in the same party, I express my sincere regret at their retirement. I have no hesitation in saying that, not only will the party with which I am associated feel a sense of loss at their going, but also that this Parliament and the country generally will be poorer for their retirement from political life. I endorse the Prime Minister’s hope that they will be long spared to enjoy the leisure that is rightly theirs after so many years of conscientious public service. That service constitutes a monument to their memory, and their example should be an inspiration to those who follow them.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say what progress has been made with the establishment of meat dehydration plants in Australia? How many are in operation, and how many aTe under construction?
– I cannot give the exact number offhand, but six are now working, and three more are in course of erection. There is already a considerable weekly output. Shipments have been sent to the United Kingdom, and it is expected that during this year, we shall send abroad 3,000 tons of dehydrated meat.
– Will the Acting Attorney-General tell the House why regulations were recently issued forbidding Commonwealth peace officers to wear uniforms to and from work? These peace officers are rendering very good service and many of them travel long distances from their homes to work. The result of the regulations is that they are no longer able to travel free on trams and buses.
– The wearing of the uniform would entitle them to free travel ?
– That is so.
– I shall examine the point raised by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture: (1) Whether steps are being taken to rationalize the flour-milling industry? (2) If so, will this cause a diminution of output from country flour mills? (3) Has the Minister considered the effect which such curtailment may have on the output of offal in country districts and the resultant consequences on the poultry industry? (4) Is the policy of restricting production of country mills in conformity with the policy of decentralization and of supporting rural industries ?
– In regard to rationalization of flour-milling, no steps have been taken on the lines implied by the honorable member’s question. The matter was considered by the Production Executive. The only step taken regarding rationalization of the milling industry related to transport and was confined to Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Action in New South Wales was deferred. Moreover, the executive expressed the opinion that in no circumstances should there be interference with the output of country mills. The policy is that we shall assist to the full to maintain the production of country mills.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture any knowledge of any action by the Commonwealth Government to interfere with the action of the Government of New South Wales in subsidizing the production of flour at country mills by means of a rebate of railway freights on flour produced in the country districts? Has the Minister any knowledge of a lawsuit against the Government of New South Wales started by the flour combine in order to prevent the milling of flour in country mills?
– I am not aware of the whole of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member. I understand that the matter is now under review. An investigation will be made and a full answer will be supplied to the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture explain why he has discriminated between the States in the matter of the rationing of flour mills?
– There is definitely no control of milling by the Commonwealth Government to date.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in order to dispel any sense of false security that may be given by the statement made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) yesterday regarding the spread of malaria, he will make available to the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, Dr. Cumpston, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the executive of the British Medical Association in Australia copies of my report on malaria so that they may supply complete medical backing for the measures which I have recommended as being necessary to make Australia safe from a spread of malaria?
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping inquire into the action of the Controller of Footwear in forbidding the use of perforated leather in the making of uppers for shoes? Zwar Brothers, tanners, Beechworth, Victoria, told me that they have on hand’ £1,000 worth of perforated leather, on the manufacture of which they have expended much money and man-power, but which, owing to a direction given by the Controller of Footwear, may not be used. There may be a good reason, for preventing the further manufacture of perforated leather, but there seems to be no justification for preventing the use of leather already manufactured. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, will “ be interested in this matter.
– I am sure that I could interest the House if I had the chance.
– The Controller of Footwear has based his determination on certain principles which apply, not only to leather, but also to other commodities, and are designed to make better use of the leather and the man-power available. One great feature of the administration of the Controller of Footwear is that he has cleared the market of shoddy footwear. It is hard to meet every individual case when regulations applying standards are made for the “whole industry, and there may be isolated cases of hardship. I shall ask the Controller of Footwear to inquire into the particular matter raised by the honorable member with a view to a more detailed answer being supplied.
– Will the Minister for the Army arrange that the future issue of tunics for the Army shall have the single-breasted lapel, like the Royal Australian Air Force tunics, instead of the present tunic with a closefitting Prussian type collar, particularly in view of the fact that my proposal will involve the Government in no more cost and will probably enable the use of less material and labour?
– The representations of the honorable member will be taken into consideration, but, as a good deal of consideration has already been given to the type of uniform worn by the Army, I cannot hold out any hope for the alteration suggested.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior make available to the House, with the relative costs, a comparison of the work which has been carried out by the Civil Constructional Corps since its inception and the amount of work which has been carried out since the beginning of the war by the Department of the Interior?
– I shall ask the Minister for the Interior to make that information available.
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to protect the rights of men who have been called up for service in the Civil Constructional Corps and who, at the time of their being called up, were about to become entitled to long service leave from municipalities or other authorities by which they were employed ?
– I shall look into the matter. I do not know much about it, but the suggestion seems a reasonable one.
– Will the Minister f cr War Organization of Industry ask the Federal Co-ordinator of Firewood and the
Attorney-General to release more aliens for the purpose of cutting firewood for the civil population of Queensland?
– Has the Minister for Munitions had an opportunity to consider the report of the Joint Committee onWar Expenditure regarding the closing down of a certain annexe in my electorate, which engages in the centrifugal casting of steel ? If the Minister cannot see his way clear to continue to grant to the undertaking orders for that class of work, will he endeavour to utilize it for some other project instead of allowing the plant to be dismantled ?
– I have received the report of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, and I can hold out no hope for the continuation of the operations formerly carried out by the annexe.
– Does the Minister refer to that particular project?
– Yes; but as the Commonwealth Government has expended money there on the erection of buildings and plant, I shall seek to utilize the undertaking to the best advantage.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact that a regulation is being drafted to terminate the operations of the South Australian Housing Trust, and transfer its activities to the Commonwealth Government under the control of the Minister for War Organization of Industry?
– It is not a fact.
Coupons for Lay-by Sales.
– In view of the statements which have appeared in the press recently regarding the extension of rationing to household drapery, and criticisms of the methods of dealing with goods on lay-by, I ask leave to make a statement.
– Is there any objection? There being no objection, the honorable member may proceed.
– I object.
– I asked whether any honorable member objected and there was no response until I called upon the honorable member for Henty.
Mr. COLES (Henty).- by leave - I direct attention to the following news item, which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Canberra Times: -
The decision of the Rationing Commission that coupons must be surrendered for Manchester goods placed on lay-by between 16th May and 5th June “ passed all understanding”, said the president of the Retail Traders Association (Sir Sydney Snow) to-day.
In fairness to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), over whose signature the order appeared, I inform the House that his decision closely follows the precedent which was established last year, when the rationing of clothing was introduced. I shall take the House into the confidence of the Rationing Commission as far as I am able, and explain how the arrangement was reached.
From its inception, the commission has adopted the practice of inviting the trade to assist it, when introducing regulations or orders, so as to reduce interference with business to a minimum. The commission invited various sections of the trade to nominate members for trade panels for the purpose of assisting it in. its work, and accepted the nominees. Those panels were set up in all States, and the Deputy Directors of Rationing kept in close touch with them. The matter of lay-by sales, which are a little different from other sales, was the subject of a special conference between the trade panel and the commission in May and early June, 1942, at the time when the rationing of clothes and piece goods was under consideration. Coupon rationing came into force on the loth June, 1942. The recommendation of the panels, which was adopted in regard to sales on lay-by, was that all contracts that were commenced prior to the 10th May, 1942, and on which payment had been completed before the 31st July, 1942, would not be subject to the surrender of coupons by the purchaser.
-The honorable member for Henty is making a statement with the permission of the House on a subject which he clearly indicated when he asked for leave. No point of order is involved.
– It was possible to allow this concession because until the 31st August, 1942, retailers were able to replenish stocks without the surrender of coupons to the supplier. For all lay-by sales made after the 10th May, 1942, the full surrender of coupons was made or the order was cancelled. The reasons advanced for this decision were twofold. First, that payments on goods on order prior to the 10th May could be assumed to be nearing completion. The goods were almost due for delivery and were needed for immediate use. ‘Secondly, goods purchased after the 10th May, 3 042, which would not be delivered until August or later, could not be regarded as being required for immediate use and as the introduction of rationing was known during that period, the lay-bys may, in many cases, have been entered into as a means of defeating the effects of rationing.
The extension of coupon rationing to cover household drapery on the 7th June, 1943, automatically made undelivered newly rationed goods, whether bought on the lay-by system or otherwise, subject to the surrender of coupons. Immediately following the publication of the order, the Acting Director of Rationing, Mr. Cumming, published a statement to the effect that the commission would give consideration to all cases in respect of which hardship might occur. That statement, published in the Melbourne Herald on the 9th May, reads -
The Acting Director of Rationing (Mr. J. B. Cumming) said to-day that in cases of hardship claims may be made to the Deputy Director of Rationing. “ The commission’s policy lias always boon to recognize hardship cases and deal with them on their merits “ he said. ‘‘The purpose nf rationing is to try, as far as practicable, to prevent any one going without essential needs “.
The traders were consulted for the purpose of determining the best method by which this intention of the commission could be given effect. Reports were obtained from deputy directors in all States, and the decision of the Minister for Trade and Customs was made on the advice received. A small section of the trade, headed by Sir Sydney Snow, of Snows Limited, Sydney, and Mr. Lampe, of Mantons Limited, Melbourne, has voiced opposition to the decision.
– Is the honorable gentleman serious in saying that the action was taken in the interests of only a small section of the trade?
– Is not Mr. Lampe the president of the Retail Traders Association of Victoria?
– He is.
– And is not Sir Sydney Snow the president of a similar body in New South Wales?
– That is so. I repeat, however, that opposition to the decision of the commission has been voiced by these gentlemen for only a small section of the trade. I believe that Sir Sydney Snow voiced his opposition for purely political purposes, and that Mr. Lampe did so because of the actions of his own company. Because of the virulence of the attack, and in fairness to other traders who have helped the commission, I consider that I am justified in stating the position as it is known to the commission. The notice of the commission was first aroused by the appearance of paper streamers on the windows of Mantons Limited, Melbourne, which announced “ Inside information - manchester in basement “. These streamers appeared within a few days of the commission’s decision to ration manchester goods, and they were followed by front page advertisements in the daily press twelve days before rationing was due to commence. Both the commission and the Minister have definite proof that there was leakage of information.
– Was it through the honorable gentleman?
– It was not; nor was it through my department. On Monday, the 7th June, the date on which the order was published, Mr. Lampe rang me at my home and stated that he knew that manchester goods were to be rationed, and also knew the number of coupons in the scale.
Motion (by Mr. Perkins) negatived -
That the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) be not further heard.
– I wish to make it quite clear that this gentleman, who is the president of the Retail Traders Association, informed me officially, as chairman of the commission, that he knew that rationing was intended, and that he also knew the coupon scale.
– The honorable member deceived the women about it.
– Mr. Lampe complained bitterly about the statement that had appeared over the name of Mr. Penrose, the Deputy Director of Rationing for Victoria, stating that refunds of money could be obtained by lay-by purchasers who did not need the goods. This complaint was submitted to the commission again at a later stage, and is the real cause of the attack that has been made on the commission by this small section of traders through certain newspapers. The complaint does not come from the general body of the trade, which, at all times, has co-operated splendidly with the commission, and given it advice upon which it could rely. The small section to which I have referred has been angered because the Rationing Commission’s order has interfered with their contracts by giving customers legal rights to refunds on account of coupon rationing having introduced a new condition which was not contemplated when the contracts were made. The argument has been advanced that “ equity in the goods passes to the buyer when the contract is made”, and that therefore the order should not apply. The commission obtained legal opinion on the point, and the order providing for refunds was made as a simple and effective method of dealing with the position. The relevant portions of the opinion read as follows : -
Although the property in goods which are the subject of lay-by transactions will generally pass to thebuyer before payment in full, the buyer’s right to take delivery will be subject to his completing all his payments, and many agreements in use provide for the forfeiture of deposit and instalments in the event of the buyer making default. When thebuyer makes default the seller would have the option of suing him for the price (i.e., the outstanding balance), in which event the buyer would be entitled to take delivery of the goods. In general, however, it is understood that sellers prefer to treat the transaction as rescinded when the buyer makes default and retain all payments made as well as putting the goods back into stock for resale. It is understood that in some cases reputable traders adopt the procedure of refunding instalments to customers but, except in New South Wales, where lay-by transactions may fall within the scope of the Hire Purchase Agreements Act 1941, there is no legal obligation on the seller to adopt this procedure, and he may retain deposit and instalments irrespective of the proportion of the purchase price which has been paid by the buyer.
As a matter of fact, lay-by is not the poor person’s bank. It certainly is not the type of bank that I would recommend to the poor person, because, under certain circumstances, the buyer may lose both his deposit and the goods. If he fails to complete his payments by a certain date he is liable to lose all that he has paid. This is one loophole in business which should be closed by legislation.
In making the decision that goods bought prior to the 15th May, 1943, and fully paid for by the 31st August, 1943, will be considered to be required for immediate use, and the necessary coupons supplied by the commission, the Minister has followed the precedent established last year in dealing with transactions of this class, and he has also made administrative action relatively easy. In allowing all purchasers who have made contracts since the 16th May, 1943, to apply to the deputy directors for consideration of their cases on the ground of hardship, the commission has followed the practice it has adopted in the administration of the regulations since the inception of rationing.
– Does not this commission include as one of its members the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) ?
– The extension of coupon rationing to household drapery became necessary because of the change in the control of export of these goods from Great Britain. That change was made known to the Rationing Commission only in May, 1943. Under the new arrangements the importation of some items, including towels, was prohibited. Whereas we anticipated increased imports of cotton goods for civil use, because of an adjustment of defence orders which had greatly interfered with civil supplies earlier, we found ourselves faced with the imposition of a quota for civil needs which was fixed at 25 per cent. of the base year for only a limited number of cloths. This action by Great Britain made it imperative to tighten the Australian scale of rationing and to impose rationing on household drapery.
– But why did the commission deceive the women about it?
– The outlook for the coming year is not bright. Unless America will grant priority shipments for at least 50 per cent. of our needs in respect of cotton cloths, the existing scale will need to be further tightened. A special mission has gone to the United States of America in order to try to arrange for the shipment to this country of cloths for industrial clothing, but I shall be surprised if America shows such an interest in our domestic comfort as to grant priority for such cloths over war material.
In relation to rationing, the people of Australia are much better off than are the people of England; they have an advantage of approximately 15 per cent. in regard to clothing, and they receive double the supplies of manchester goods that are allowed to the people of England under the rationing scale. The experience of the commission during the last twelve months has been that the great majority of the people of this country, as well as the traders, have accepted rationing without complaint and as a necessary part of Australia’s war effort. The commission is grateful for their understanding and help.
– In view of the serious nature of the disclosure by the honorable member for Henty that certain persons had advance information in regard to rationing, and that the president of the Retail Traders Association in Melbourne admitted having had inside information, which fact he published on a showcase in which his firm displayed its goods, will the Prime Minister institute an immediate inquiry into the reason for whatever leakages occurred, and refer the matter to the Attorney-
General for advice as to whether or not there has been a breach of the Black Marketing Act? Will the right honorable gentleman also take appropriate steps to tighten up the law, in order to prevent future occurrences of a similar nature ?
– I shall have inquiries made.
– I have received from at least a dozen sources the serious complaint that the kits of deceased husbands, brothers, fathers or sons which had been sent to kit stores by responsible members of battalions or regiments have been received minus some of the effects that they ought to have contained, and secured only by means of a piece of wire or wood. The recipients are not concerned in regard to the value of the missing articles, but are keenly desirous of obtaining possession of the very last effects that the men handled, including their own gifts and others that had been made in the district in which the soldier enlisted. Will the Minister for the Army take steps to ensure that those who are in charge of kit stores shall not be allowed to “Tat” kit-bags that are returned from operational areas, as occurred in the last war and as is occurring at the present time, and will he take serious action against any proved offenders who thus disgrace the name of Australia?
– I shall institute an immediate investigation of the complaint of the honorable gentleman.
– A circular distributed yesterday to honorable members and, presumably, to the press, purporting to be a ministerial statement giving an historical account of the activities of the Department of Munitions, contained a footnote intimating that it had been authorized by the publicity officer of the department. I ask the Minister for Munitions whether we are to understand that in future he will not regard himself as authorized to make a press statement concerning the activities of his department until it has been “O K’d “ by the publicity officer of the department?
– Any authorization that is needed in respect of whatever information emanates from my department will be given by me, as Minister. The “OK” in respect of the particular matter referred to was given solely for security reasons. There is in my department a liaison officer who closely examines any information that is given to the press. It may not be assumed that he has the power of authorization in respect of the compilation of figures and statements concerning the history of what has been done by the Department of Munitions.
– Does the Minister for Supply and Shipping intend to give to the House, before the termination of this sessional period, an opportunity to discuss the report of the Public Works Committee upon the Newnes and Baerami shale oil proposals?
– A discussion of that report was not intended.
– Being a report to Parliament, action upon it cannot be taken until Parliament adopts it.
– That is true. The Government considers that the best purpose would not be served by embarking upon such a discussion in the present condition of the House. Nevertheless, I consider that, as the Minister concerned, I should undertake the responsibility of proceeding with certain aspects of the project, particularly in relation to the water supply.
– That is urgent.
– Yes. Nothing should be allowed to impede the raising of production to the level which the committee regards as necessary. Whatever steps are deemed to be essential and urgent will be taken.
– Has the Treasurer received from the Postal Workers Union a communication which asks that the superannuation contributions of Commonwealth servants who have been called up for Militia service shall be paid by the Commonwealth Government, in conformity with the practice that exists in connexion with members of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Imperial Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force?
– The matter of superannuation payments was brought to my notice, and to the notice of the Government, by various organizations, including the one mentioned by the honorable member. The finance committee of the Treasury has, within the last week or two, presented a report making certain recommendations which are now under consideration.
– I have been informed that many taxpayers in the armed forces have suffered serious financial embarrassment in meeting this year’s tax assessments, owing to the reduction of their income. I ask the Treasurer whether it it true that the taxation branch is debiting taxpayers’ liabilities against them for collection after the war? Will the Treasurer institute inquiries with a view to providing relief for taxpayers when it can be shown that, through no fault of their own, they are financially embarrassed owing to their service in the armed forces? It is suggested that the tax might be reduced, or altogether waived.
– It is true that representations have been made to the Commissioner of Taxation on behalf of members of the armed forces, and in most instances sympathetic consideration has been given to such representations. In some cases payment has been deferred, but it must be remembered that all taxpayers, including members of the armed forces, have a right of appeal on the ground of hardship if they believe that they have sufficient grounds. As honorable members are aware, a great deal of tax is written off in such circumstances, upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Taxation. I have received no complaints of any lack of sympathy by the department.
-aix. - j. ain not suggesting that.
– I shall look into the matter, and let the honorable member l,ave a statement on it later.
Motion (by Mr. Beasley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section five of the National Security Act 1039-1940 and to validate certain regulations and certain matters which arose under those regulations.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Beasley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the War Service Estates Act 1942.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I desire to ask a question of the Prime Minister. The matter arises from a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee’ on Broadcasting, which was presented yesterday. Can the Prime Minister say whether the authority of the Government under National Security Regulations is likely to be invoked during the next eight weeks to direct the Australian Broadcasting Commission to arrange, against its will, broadcasts of a party political character by Ministers of the Crown? I refer the Prime Minister to the following passages in the committee’s report: -
In December, 1942, the Minister for Aircraft Production asked the commission whether arrangements could be made for a selected speaker to broadcast “ the case against the merging of the Australian Military Forces with the Australian Imperial Force and the proposed amendment of the Defence Act to provide for the conscripting of men for military service in areas of the South-Weet Pacific outside Australia”. The commission declined . . .
On 10th February, 1943, the secretary of the Department of Information arranged a broadcast by the Minister for the Army, over national and commercial stations, entitled “ The Australian Army “. The commission’s view is “ if that sort of broadcast can be forced on i.t by the secretary of the Department of Information, there is no limit to the propa ganda that could be broadcast by a government without any power in the commission to prevent it “.
It is pointed out that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) was later given an opportunity to broadcast over the national stations, but that no arrangement was made for a broadcast over the commercial stations. I ask the Prime Minister for an unqualified statement that the Government will not use its powers under the National Security Regulations to direct the commission to arrange, against its own will and judgment, what it has described as party political propaganda broadcasts.
– I can answer the question by reciting a fact. I have been requested to deliver a special broadcast to the United States of America on Independence Day, which is Monday next, the 4th July, but the Australian Broadcasting Commission is so fearful that what I propose to say to America might be of some advantage to my party in Australia that it will not broadcast my speech to the people of Australia, although it is to be broadcast to the people of the United States of America. I have not issued any directions to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am not going to interfere. The position seems to be the same as that in regard to the picture taken in this chamber the other day. Quite recently I was asked by the Australian Broadcasting Commission if I had any objection to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) delivering a broadcast which was of a party political character. It had to do with the platform which had been drawn up, and which the right honorable gentleman wished to announce to the Australian public. It was a party political statement. I said that I had no objection whatsoever, and I also said that 1 considered that the Leader of the Opposition should be allowed to make a broadcast whenever he felt so disposed.
– The right honorable gentleman has always said that.
– Yes. But, when 1 was Leader of the Opposition I had very few opportunities to broadcast. I have recited in this Parliament the number of ministerial statements broadcast compared with the Opposition’s statements. The figures are on record. Any statements that are made by Ministers in the interests of public information and in order to carry out public administration intelligently and sensibly ought to be broadcast, because the public must have knowledge of what Ministers are doing and what the Government wants done; but, since honorable gentlemen opposite have changed sides in this House, they regard every ministerial statement as a party political statement.
– This is the opinion of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– It cited two instances.
Mr.Curtin. - I have given no direction to it. If i receive as much justice from influential interests on the honorable member’s side as he will get from me I shall not complain. lakes entrance oil-field.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping make a statement to the House on the Lakes Entrance oil-field ?
– i should be prepared to make a statement on the progress that has been made in boring for oil at Lakes Entrance, but it would take too long to do so in answer to a question. supply bill (No. 1) 1943-44.
Assent reported. death of the honorable john McNeill.
– i have received from Mrs. John McNeill a letter acknowledging the resolution passed in respect of the death of the late John McNeill and expressing appreciation of the action of the House in paying tribute to the services which he had rendered to the Commonwealth. northern territory election.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement in the press to the effect that the One Party For Australia Association has endorsed a certain member of the forces to contest the Northern Territory seat against the sitting member, Sergeant
Blain. who is a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese in Borneo? Will the Prime Minister provide transport facilities for members of this House and others who desire to support the candidature of Sergeant Blain?
Mr.CURTIN.- The rights of persons to contest seats in the Commonwealth Parliament are set out in the Constitution and the electoral law.
– Made in peace-time.
Mr.CURTIN.- Exactly. And that applies in a great measure to the powers that the Commonwealth is trying to administer for purposes of war. The honorable gentleman has asked whether the Government will provide transport for the friends of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) who desire to secure his re-election. I do not know how far the Government is in a position to provide that, but it will do all it can.
– Or for his opponents?
– Or for his opponents ! Perhaps I can reveal the Government’s attitude to the question put by the honorable gentleman, when I say that I find it incredible that a man, who is a prisoner of war and who represents the Northern Territory, where it can be said that at present there is no effective civil population, should be opposed by any decent man.
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I have received from the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The strike at Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited’s factory and the coercive tactics employed by officers of the Government to compel employees of that factory to join an industrial union.”
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion.
– Although I appreciate that the House is anxious to conclude its business to-day, I make no apology for this motion, because it is my genuine belief that the strike at the factory of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, at Sydney, involves circumstances and raises questions of principle which call for the attention of this House. Amongst other matters, it again raises the matter of compulsory unionism. I remind the House that this is not the first time in recent months that the House has been called upon to investigate that particular item of policy. I make it clear, speaking for myself and, I think, the Opposition generally, that we support the principle of trade unionism. We believe that men who are regularly engaged in a particular trade or occupation should, as a matter of general practice, associate themselves with the union which is protecting their interests; but there is a great difference between that statement of general policy and a policy which compels Australian citizens against their will to become, as a result of coercive tactics, members of an industrial union. When Ave previously had this matter before us, it was pointed out that the present Government had taken no legislative action to put compulsory unionism into effect. In fact, very recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) said that there was no constitutional power to do so. We laid the charge against the Government at that time that it was making use of the privileges which arose from its administration of departments to compel persons in its employ or employed under contracts with the Government to become members of trade unions. Last September the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) submitted a very strong case against the Government on those grounds. When the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) attended the trade unions congress in Melbourne recently, a delegate informed him that the Prime Minister had promised that compulsory unionism would be introduced ; but the Minister replied that the Government had not proceeded with the plan because of the hostile Senate. Only last week the Prime Minister stated that the Government did not have the requisite constitutional authority to give effect to such a policy. That being so, the Government deserves severe criticism if it is prepared to use its administrative power to achieve a result which it has no legal authority to effect. That it is using its administrative authority, and the services of Commonwealth officers, for this purpose, is borne out by a statement published in the June edition of the Ironworker. This is the official publicacation of the organization controlled by Mr. Thornton, the gentleman who has previously been quoted in this House as having said that his union made strikes its business. The article in the journal reads -
At Islington (South Australia) a girl refused to join the union. A meeting was held at crib time, and an ultimatum of seven days was given the girl to join the union, otherwise the members of the Ironworkers Union would refuse to work with her. At the end of the seven days the girl still refused to join, and after a mass meeting of the workers, representations were made to the Man Power Department by Assistant Branch Secretary Neil Maclean. The girl was transferred from the annexe, thus avoiding a stoppage of work.
On that occasion an officer of the Government was brought into the dispute, and his influence was exerted to transfer an employee to another position. That brings me to the facts relating to the strike at the factory of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited. This dispute arose out of the general dispute over the Anzac Day holiday, when each of 40,000 members of the metal trades unions in New South Wales made a present to the Axis of a day’s work. They unlawfully refused to go to work. The executives of the metal trade unions directed their members to cease work, but about 30 persons at Duly and Hansford’s annexe, including some members of the ironworkers union, ignored the instruction. Some resigned from the union because of this unpatriotic stoppage. The union then became busy. It issued an edict that the ten non-unionists at the factory must either join the union, be dismissed by the management, or be transferred elsewhere by the man-power authorities. The union declared that if one of those three courses was not taken a strike would occur at the factory.
To their everlasting credit, the persons concerned refused to be coerced by these un- Aus tralian, bullying methods, and the management also made it clear that whether or not the employees joined a union was a matter for themselves to determine. Then the unions appealed to the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Mooney, who proceeded to investigate the case. He stated that, whilst he personally favoured membership of unions, it was entirely a voluntary matter and the law did not compel a private citizen to join an industrial organization. Having been thwarted, the union executives then asked the Deputy Director of Man Power, Mr. Bellemore, to transfer nine of the ten non-unionists to another factory. Taking a very proper stand, Mr. Bellemore replied that unless the persons concerned applied for a transfer, he had no authority to direct them to take other employment.
By that time the Commonwealth Arbitration Court had been approached, and Judge O’Mara declared the strike illegal and referred the papers to the Prime Minister, who about that time had issued another batch of anti-strike regulations, which he himself proposed to administer. Then union officials interviewed representatives of the Metal Trades Employers Association. On the 15th June the employers association asked the judge to direct the union to call off the strike. Judge O’Mara said that he had already declared the strike illegal and could go no farther. He stated -
It is the Commonwealth Government’s job to punish people who illegally absent themselves from work, or unions which encourage strikes.
The judge adjourned the hearing. On the 16th June, the ten employees issued a statement to the effect that Mr. “ Jock “ Garden, who is rather euphemistically described as a “ liaison officer “ to the suspended Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), had, in company with one of the executives of the union, paid them a visit and had told Mrs. Cassidy -
If you want war effort, Mrs. Cassidy, I’ll put you where you will get plenty of it - up to your neck in dirt.
– Mr. Garden denied having used those words.
– The non-unionists said that they were prepared to join a union if they were given a written guarantee by the union that it would not engage in strikes in war-time. That was a very reasonable request. Thereupon, they claimed, Mr. Garden became very angry and declared that no such guarantee would be given. Mr. Garden denied that he had used the words about which Mrs. Cassidy complained, and stated that what he said was, “ “Work up to the neck “. He did not use the words “ up to the neck in dirt “. It seems that the non-unionists’ must have imagined it! But Mrs. Cassidy stuck to her story, and declared that the other nine nonunionists had heard the liaison officer use those words. Then Mr. Garden declared his conviction that the women were not sincere, and “had a little game on”. Those women entered the industry for the purpose of assisting the war effort, and some of them are working a ten-hour shift. Finally at the Trade Unions Congress in Melbourne, the Minister for Labour and National Service informed the delegates that the affair was a political one and that Mrs. Cassidy was getting her instructions from outside. [Quorum formed.] On the 21st June the Arbitration Court resumed its hearing, and the story told by the trade union representatives was that this was a political stunt. Mr. Shand, K.C., who represented the non-unionists, .informed the judge that these ten individuals alone were observing the law. The judge remarked that as neither party had seen fit to call M,r. Garden or Mr. Bellemore, “ only one inference is possible on the evidence before me as to the conduct “ of these gentlemen. One of the union representatives indicted a member of the firm as the man responsible for the trouble, and another repeated the story that the whole thing was a political stunt, but was reminded by the judge that the union had started the dispute. Later, on the 23rd June, the judge refused to deal with the “ union aspect “ so long as the strike continued, and held that it was not within the court’s power to punish offenders against national security regulations. He remarked -
The matter has been specially committed to another authority. Responsibility rests with the union; the strike was largely due to the feeling that the unions were in a position to wave the big stick and that it was something to be able to say with impunity “We have broken the law on a number of occasions by striking “.
At that stage the Prime Minister announced that the situation would be “ examined by investigation officers “. [Extension of time granted.] Under war-time conditions tens of thousands of people who would never normally become associated with industry are actually working in industry as a regular method of earning their livelihood, and as a method of assisting in the war effort on the industrial front. Under pressure many of these people have joined trade unions; but, in the factory of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, a small number of women workers decided that they would not join a union. These women would not be engaged in this industry under normal conditions, but they accepted work because they had a desire to help in the production of very necessary weapons of war. It is significant that the strike has been caused because of the action of the only persons in the factory who are obeying the law. Pressure was put upon these individuals by man-power officers, and also by the liaison officer, and now we learn that officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch have visited these non-unionists in their homes and at the factory, mainly, it would seem, in order to discover whether they had obtained legal advice and, if so, who was paying for it. I bring to the notice of honorable members the following statement on the subject which was issued by eight of the individuals concerned, and published in to-day’s Daily Telegraph: -
We regret that the occasion has arisen for us to demand the assistance of the Press in the interests of freedom. We had hoped that the efforts at intimidation had ended with the visit of Mr. Garden and with Judge O’Mara’s expressed disapproval of the method then adopted.
With the delivery of the judge’s decision, we assumed that we, as observers of the law, would be free from further interrogation, and that something would be done to deal with the situation, where a large number of employees were, against their will, being kept away from work by their union officials.
The new development, however, is almost unbelievable, and we are again involved in interviews with officers, this time of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch.
It will be remembered that the judge forwarded his judgment, with its specific findings, to the Prime Minister, on May 31.
These findings were:
That a strike existed.
That the unions incited this strike. 3.T hat the strike was illegal, and was preventing the war effort.
The judge has indicated in both judgments, delivered by him that the unions are acting in defiance of the law.
On Monday of this week we were informed that at the meeting of the strikers at the Trades Hall on Friday last Mr. Tannock (who previously called us loathsome toads) informed the meeting that they would be back at work on Friday, because Mr. Curtin had told him he was behind the strikers.
This was not very reassuring to us, who were looking to the Prime Minister to enforce the law.
On Tuesday, at (i p.m., one of our numbers was interviewed at her home by two men who said they were from the C.I.B., and wished to ask her questions.
She replied that she preferred to answer questions in the presence of her legal adviser, Mr. Shand, in view of what had happened in past interviews.
She was then told that she was obstructing a Commonwealth officer and rendering herself liable accordingly.
She said, “ I am not refusing to co-operate nor trying to hinder you in your duties. I am only asking you to interview me in the presence of my legal adviser.”
Seen at Homes.
These officers had refused to see the girls collectively, giving as their reason for seeing them individually that the girls were not organized.
Interviews have taken place with others of the girls at their homes and at the factory with all, in effect, except Mrs. Cassidy and Mrs. McLeod.
The trend of all these investigations seems to be a desire to ascertain whether these girls have legal advice, what it is costing them, whether the management is paying, and generally to suggest that there is something insincere in what is being done or in what they are doing.
The whole procedure is very disturbing.
Where do we stand?
Is there any freedom left?
Will the public realise that the decisions of courts are being deliberately disregarded, and Commonwealth detectives are being sent to speak to us and to order us to answer?
Is Mr. Tannock deceiving the strikers when he tells them, “ Mr. Curtin had told me he is behind us”?
Is Mr. Curtin directing these investigations to be made when the strike has been investigated on three occasions:
That statement reveals a disturbing state of affairs which fully justifies me in bringing the whole subject to the notice of the House. It is clear that coercive tactics have been adopted by officers of the Government in order to compel certain employees in a particular factory to join an industrial union. I submit that for at least three reasons the Government should be censured in respect of these events. In the first place the Prime Minister has failed to act in relation to workers declared to be illegally on strike after Judge O’Mara had said that the matter was “ now one for the Government”. In spite of all the protestations of the Prime Minister that he desired industrial peace and would do anything in his power to ensure it, the strike at the factory of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited is now in its seventh week, involving a colossal waste of manhours. So far as we know, the Government is not taking any action in relation to this dispute, which has been declared bv a court to be an illegal strike. In fact its activities seem to have been concentrated on forcing a number of patriotic and public spirited women into a position of discomfiture and embarrassment because they desire to render service to the nation. They have been intimidated by public officers. The second ground on which the Government should be censured is that although the Prime Minister has admitted that the Government has no power to impose compulsory unionism on the workers of this country, it has used its administrative agencies, and some persons in its employ, to coerce these workers, who have been submitted to a kind of third degree. I refer, in particular, to the tactics employed by Mr. “ Jock “ Garden and certain officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch. This Parliament has entrusted the Government with the exercise of extraordinarily wide wartime powers, and it has the definite responsibility of ensuring that those powers shall not be abused. The onus rests on honorable members to exercise the utmost vigilance in order that the Executive shall not so misuse powers that have been given to it for the purpose of carrying on the war. as to impose hardship or injustice on our citizens. Matters of principle are involved in this dispute and in the methods that have been adopted by the Government. I ask the House, by its vote, not only to voice the strongest condemnation of the Government, but also to express the opinion that it holds in regard to the matter at issue. I believe it to be true that there is not in this House a majority of members who favour the application of compulsory unionism to persons who are not normally employed in the industrial field, or who approve of the adoption of coercive tactics. The obligation rests upon this House to declare where it stands in this matter. We are shortly to appear before the people. This is one of the matters with respect to which they will want to be fully informed. As the matter has been raised in so direct a form by the dispute that has occurred, Parliament should not be dissolved before a declaration has been made as to whereeach honorable member stands in respect of the issues that have been raised.
– The charge is that coercive tactics have been employed by officers of the Government to compel certain employees of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited to join an industrial union. The evidence in support of the charge is a newspaper article that is based upon a statement by one of the parties who was responsible for causing the dispute to arise.
– Oh, no! What about the expression of opinion by a judge?
– I remained silent until the honorable member had presented his case. As a lawyer, he must agree that, when a charge has been made against a Commonwealth officer, a public servant, or any other person entrusted with the administration of a matter of this kind, and that charge involves the security of his official position, Parliament ought not to he asked to pass sentence before it has heard what the person accused has had to say in his defence. I am surprised that the honorable member should ask for judgment to be passed in different circumstances. I declare that the answer of the Commonwealth officers concerned to the charge that has been made is an emphatic denial that they used coercive tactics for the purpose of forcing the employees mentioned to join an industrial union. In the light of all the facts, they are entitled to have their word accepted by this House before the word of those who are involved in the dispute for no other than a party political purpose.
– I am told that Mrs. Cassidy has been working at a munitions factory for well over a year.
– Mrs. Cassidy has been working in this factory for well over a year. During that period, she has been content to enjoy all the working conditions which trade unionism has won. Apparently, in common with many others, . she is prepared to take all that unionism provides whilst declining to make any contribution to the funds that are needed to enable those conditions to be maintained. Trade unionism is part and parcel of our lives and our industrial activities. If the Opposition takes the view that that is not the case, we shall know where we stand. I suppose that if honorable members opposite were sufficiently powerful they would destroy the trade unions movement.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Can honorable members opposite not take it ? They and their predecessors throughout the history of this country have waged one long struggle against the development of trade unionism. They have never believed in it. They have exercised to its detriment all the power and authority they have enjoyed, and have adopted all the coercive measures they have been able to employ in order to retard its progress. I should imagine that the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) would always endeavour to have the facts disclosed in order that judgment might be passed upon them. The investigation referred to arose out of an instruction issued through the department controlling those officers, following the promulgation of Statutory Rules No. 103, which was designed to deal with problems arising in industry. Those instructions were issued in the following form : -
The Prime Minister has issued instructions that these investigations should be carried <;ut by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch in association with the Arbitration Inspectors appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I shall be glad, therefore, if you will instruct the Inspector,
Investigation Branch, in each State that, in case of a lock-out, strike or stoppage of work occurring in the State, he should take steps immediately to ascertain the cause of the lock-out, strike or stoppage and, in particular, whether it has been caused by any such employer, servant, agent or employee failing to fulfil his obligations under the law or any industrial award, order, determination, agreement, code or custom relating to the undertaking or by reason of any contravention of any such law, award, order, determination, agreement, code or custom.
That is the basis upon which these investigations were conducted. They covered a very wide field. Honorable members may be interested to learn that the officers associated with the Investigation Branch first approached the ironworkers union.
– Naturally they would.
– Does the honorable gentleman complain of that?
– Mr. Thornton - a “ com. ».
– The ex-Minister for Labour and National Services (Mr. Holt), who has submitted this motion to-day, conducted many negotiations on behalf of the then Government with Mr. Thornton as representative of the Ironworkers Union. I have yet to learn that any government refused to hear him state the case of the ironworkers union. These officers, as I have said, commenced their investigations with the ironworkers union. They then proceeded to the Australian Society of Engineers. The next stage was the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Subsequently, they interviewed the management of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, and the Metal Trades Employers Association. They next contacted a number of members of the rank and file associated with this job, and lastly attempted to question the nonunionists concerned. Is there any objection to the conduct of investigations on that basis, in the light of the terms of the regulations which the Prime Minister proposed to administer personally? Is there any complaint regarding the scope of the investigation ? Do honorable members suggest that all the’ persons whom I have named should have been examined, but that the non-unionists should not have been? The officers concerned emphatically deny that any grilling “ of non-unionists took place.
They emphatically deny that there was any “grilling” of any one. As they are public servants of good reputation - one of them, in particular, having had long service under this and other governments - I shall take their word rather than the word of those who are interested only in the political aspect of the matter. These men are experienced officers, and it is contrary to their practice to seek information in the manner alleged. They have informed me that the investigation was conducted in the normal manner, and that there was no “ grilling “ of any person whatever. The officers concerned were examined by the SolicitorGeneral, Sir George Knowles, because it was his business, as head of the branch to which they are attached, to find out whether any one under his control adopted methods of the kind alleged by this newspaper. Mr. Barnwell was the chief investigating officer. I have no doubt that he is known to the right honorable member for Kooyong. I quote from the transcript of the examination of this officer by the Solicitor-General -
Sir George Knowles. ; What was the purport of the conversation? To endeavour to get them to join the union?
Mr. Barnwell. ; On that angle, we told them that we were not there to ask them to join any union. We had no intention of asking them to join a union.
Sir George Knowles. ; What was your object in interviewing them?
Mr. Barnwell. ; We had made certain inquiries. We had seen the matter from the union angle and we had noticed that the management had claimed that they were strictly neutral. There were certain aspects I was not satisfied about and I thought that if I saw some of them (I picked out particular ones around Marrickville) I could clear those aspects up. My aim was to discover whether the management was backing these people in this particular struggle.
Sir George Knowles. ; It was not in any sense to use any influence with them to join any union?
Mr. Barnwell. ; Far from it . . . There was no suggestion that we asked them to join a union.
We have been asked why these people were interviewed at their homes. That was done at the suggestion of the management. When Mr. Duly, the principal of the firm, was approached in an endeavour to obtain information, he suggested that if it was desired to interview the nonunionists, it would be better not to see them at the factory, but to see them at their own homes. Honorable members must decide whether to accept or reject the word of the Solicitor-General and of Mr. Barnwell. That is what the motion requires them to do. The charge is that officers of the Investigation Branch were used for the purpose of coercing people to join a union. That is the charge upon which honorable members will be required to vote this afternoon. Are they to take the word of the Solicitor-General and Mr. Barnwell, or of this newspaper?
– There was a statement, also.
– Yes ; and there was a sub-leader on the subject. The question i3 whether honorable members will accept the word of the newspaper, and of persons about whom nobody knows anything, or the word of responsible officers.
– Is the Minister referring to the non-unionists?
– I am referring to the case put forward by the honorable member, and his case is based on a statement-
– By eight persons.
– Whom he has never met, whom he does not know, and about whose reputation for truthfulness he knows nothing. He knows nothing of their associations. The honorable member would not back some of them for a moment if they were tested by a competent authority, which could bring to light their associations and antecedents.
– I know “ Jock “ Garden.
– If the honorable member knew the facts he would not rise in his place to say one word for some of those people. One gentleman is in a protected industry when he might well be somewhere else. If the chief investigation officer, whose record is above reproach, were not bona fide, he would have been dismissed long ago. We now come to Mr. Garden. It has been stated that Mr. Garden said something.. If we accept the word of the Solicitor-General and of Mr. Barnwell as against the word of the women concerned, then Mr. Garden’s case is sustained. If the women would lie in one instance, they would be prepared to lie in regard to . Mr. Garden. They say that Mr. Garden said certain things. Mr. Garden says that he did not. They say that coercive tactics were adopted. Mr. Barnwell says that they were not. If Mr. Barnwell is right, and they are wrong - and I will accept the word of Mr. Barnwell and of the Solicitor-General - then it is extremely probable that they are wrong also in their allegations against Mr. Garden, and that they have been lying all along the line. It is clear that political considerations are at the bottom of the whole dispute, and here is proof of it. The concluding line in an editorial in the press this morning reads -
Those to whom it does not appeal should know what to do with their vote in the coming elections.
That is what is behind it all. The denial made by Mr. Garden has been sustained by the report of the investigating officer and the SolicitorGeneral. In the instance now before the House, Mr. Garden may have been wrong in a thousand other instances - I do not say that he has - but he is right in this instance, because we have evidence proving that the people who charged Mr. Garden have lied. [Exten sion of time granted.] I would willingly face a debate on the question of whether Commonwealth investigation officers should be used in matters such as this. The question is whether the Prime Minister before exercising his powers under Statutory Rules No. 103, should not obtain the information he requires from sources which he considers to be reliable. The question is whether an investigation should be carried out by officers of the Arbitration Court, officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch or by means of some other organization which would have to be set up. There may be differences of opinion on that score, even on this side of the House. It may he debatable whether the Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department should be entirely separated from matters relating to industrial problems. It may be that the Commonwealth Investigation Branch deals with so many other subjects involving the law that it should be kept out of investigations like that carried out at the works of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited. I myself have some views on that subject. But that is not the question. We are not facing any charge that Mr. Barnwell should not have been allowed to make his investigation. The charge is that coercive tactics were employed in order to force people to join an industrial union. That charge cannot be sustained. It is emphatically denied. The House is called upon to accept the investigation officer’s report.
– There is also the matter of “ Jock “ Garden.
– The honorable gentleman cannot run away from facts. Investigation of industrial undertakings by man-power officials is constantly in progress. I could name three or four undertakings which the man-power officials now are examining with a view to releasing labour for transfer to other more important work. The Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) has told of the drastic changes that are taking place in the munitions programme because production has, in some instances, reached the necessary level. Is it to be said that Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited is to be immune? In the light of these facts, the visit of Mr. Garden to the factory was thoroughly justified. The motion refers to the use of coercion to force people to join a union. The charge implicit in the motion cannot be sustained. It is a mere subterfuge to say that the people about whom this trouble revolves are vitally interested in the war effort. The value of the work that they are doing could- be analysed. I know a great deal more about what they are doing than do most honorable members. It would not be desirable in this discussion, however, to go into details about that. But a few people, for political reasons, are causing this trouble, which has resulted in Parliament being asked to decide between the word of Mr. Barnwell, the investigation officer, whose record in a long official career has been above reproach, supported by the word of the Solicitor-General, and the statement of persons in a sheltered industry who might well be elsewhere. I think that, on reflection, the House will say that the investigation officer and the SolicitorGeneral are to be believed.
.- In supporting the motion of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), I point out that people are being coerced into unions. I can supply specific instances. I could take the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) to a certain factory where a little lady-
-Order! We are dealing with the factory of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, and the honorable member may not go beyond that.
– Then I cannot relate the facts as I should like to. Like the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), I am limited. But I can establish beyond doubt that the woman in the place referred to was told by men in the factory that she must join the union, or her position would be reconsidered. .She was notified that if she joined the union she would be given more congenial work than that of keeping the file. One gentleman told her that she was not using the file correctly and she retorted, “I know something about filing, and something about industry. Although I have no need to work here, I am forced to be here “. Although she was persecuted, she steadfastly rejected all suggestions to reconsider her refusal to join the union. She replied, “I am here against my will “. I should add that she is the daughter of a very wealthy man.
Government Supporters. - Ah!
– Honorable members can “ ah ! “ as much as they like. She should not have been permitted to work in that factory, when men who had been out of employment for seven or eight weeks had been refused a job there. Then the pressure was applied to her. The manager of the factory said to her : “ I have to tell the men something. What shall 1 say to them?” She answered: “ I have a brother who is a prisoner of war. Other workers in this factory have relatives who are prisoners of war. If they go on strike because I want to continue at work they are a dirty lot of rotters “. She was not dismissed, but in the course of time she received a delightful letter to the effect that her services would not be required at the factory any longer, because they were more urgently needed by her mother, who was in. a state of ill health. I am prepared to take the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) to interview the girl, and he can verify my words. Such a pitch of regimentation has been reached in Australia that even the principles of Magna Charta are being violated. In war-time people recognize that the Government must introduce some form of regimentation and discipline, but discipline and freedom are complementary. If complete discipline prevailed without freedom, people would be reduced to slavery. I warn the country that we are fast approaching that position. Magna Charta was sealed in the year 1216. Civilization was not so advanced as it is to-day, and King John was uneducated, according to modern standards, but the baron3 figuratively took him by the scruff of the neck and compelled him to attach his seal to the great charter.
-Order! I understand that King John was not taken to Duly and Hansford’s factory, so I ask the honorable member not to digress.
– Men can become intoxicated with power just as they can become intoxicated with alcohol. Man knows no worse form of intoxication than that of being drunk with power or vanity. When Ministers become so affected the common man is persecuted, and deprived of his liberties and privileges. Coercion in its most horrible form has been applied to this young lady. People are being deprived of the rights that our servicemen are fighting for today. The charge of coercion has been fully sustained.
.- Some of the statements made by members of the Opposition are just as exaggerated as the statement which appeared in to-day’s press. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) declared that his complaint was directed, not against what had happened at the factory, but against the disciplining of the community in war-time. He protested against methods adopted by the
Government for carrying on the war. Despite his professions of patriotism, he resented the maintenance of order and discipline by constitutional methods for the purpose of conducting the war.
Statements by honorable members opposite have been most contradictory. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) declared that tens of thousands of workers engaged in war production had never before worked for wages. Whilst that statement is perfectly true, I remind him that 99 per cent, of them join the unions because they wish to assist the war effort. They do not object to joining industrial organizations. Why did the strike occur at Duly and Hansford’s factory? A common rule, which has been applied to government workshops for the last fifteen years, is that employees must join a union.
– Has the Commonwealth Government power to enforce that rule?
– I do not know. Those employees join the union without complaint, because they desire to assist the war effort. Mrs. Cassidy and the other non-unionists have so protested their altruistic motives that I have become suspicious of them. Each wants to be like a new Messiah, or a female Moses to lead other workers out of the wilderness. Ten people - now reduced to six - wished to dictate to more than 1,000 workers what the rules of their organization shall be. People who have never customarily worked for wages are concerned in this dispute.
– And they are concerned about personal freedom.
– Because of their little, tinpot, freakish ideas .the six people who are now causing this cessation of work are trying to rule nearly 1,500 people. In such circumstances it surely cannot be said that these individuals are chiefly concerned about assisting the war effort. If that was their real desire they would readily surrender their freakish ideas. The practice that is being followed in the munitions factories in Australia is similar to that being followed in similar factories in Great Britain, Canada and the United States of America. It is significant that a discussion of this subject should have been introduced at this period. The whole atmosphere of the Parliament has changed since the Prime Minister indicated last ‘week that an early appeal would be made to the electors. I am almost sure that the honorable member for Fawkner is aware that negotiations to settle this dispute at a round-table conference are now proceeding, but honorable gentlemen opposite do not desire the dispute to be settled. As a matter of fact, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) had taken steps to hold a round-table conference on this subject before I was brought into the matter. I have had my first contact with this dispute this morning, when I discussed the subject with certain officials in Sydney. It is regrettable that, at (this stage, an attempt should be made to fan the smouldering embers of this dispute into a flame. Our efforts should be concentrated upon extinguishing the embers. But for the fact that a general election is to be held within the next few weeks, I believe that a wiser procedure would have been adopted. I consider that this move is political. The newspaper report published this morning and quoted at length by the honorable member for Fawkner makes this clear beyond all question. The report gave the whole show away. Honorable gentlemen opposite believe that by the adoption of these tactics they can harm the Government. I confess to disappointment that the honorable member for Fawkner, who usually maintains a high standard of debate in this chamber, should have allowed himself to be drawn into this dispute.
– Does the Minister believe in compulsory unionism?
– That is not the issue that we have to consider. It has been made quite clear that the women who have caused this cessation of work were prepared to join the trade union governing the work in -which they were engaged, but they stipulated an impossible condition. They said, in effect, “ If you will include in the rules of the union provision for a secret ballot, which we think would be a fine thing, we will join the union “.
– Tell us something about priority for trade union secretaries.
– There is no such thing. The honorable gentleman should not throw such a remark into the debate.
– Do honorable members imagine for a moment that nearly 1,500 workers could allow half a dozen others to dictate to them how their unions should be ruled? The whole idea is foolish in the extreme. I am astonished that members of the Opposition have been able, so quickly, to forget the horrors of this war, that’ they can lend themselves to tactics of this description in the hope that thereby they may gain some slight political advantage.
– The argument advanced by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) should cause the people of this country furiously to think, for it brings under review the basic reason why we are engaged in this war. The honorable gentleman has said that all these women need to do is to join the union. If they would do so there would be no more trouble. Why, he has asked, should they attempt to dictate the policy of thousands of other unionists ? Honorable members will appreciate at once that it could be said that al] Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia and Great Britain had to do was to accept the principles of Nazi Germany in order to avoid war. It was because Nazi Germany endeavoured to foist its principles upon the small nations that Great Britain came to their aid. The small nations did not wish to lose their identity, and for .that reason the Allied Nations are standing by them through these terrible days. What I have said disposes completely of the argument of the Minister.
The speech of the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Beasley) requires a little more attention. His utterance was much more important than that of his colleague. He has said that the SolicitorGeneral has interrogated certain officers of the Investigation Branch and we must necessarily accept their replies as being truthful, even though the interrogation was not on oath. Why should we accept the replies of those officers in preference to the replies of the women who were interrogated earlier by those officers? I take it that the Minister will accept the view that there is no more reason why we should accept the statements of the Government’s officers than that we should accept those of the women who were interrogated by those officers. We must bear in mind that departmental officers act under instructions which are influenced by government policy. Let us consider the policy of this Government in relation to compulsory unionism. Every one will agree without question that compulsory unionism is the policy of this Government. Departmental officers expect to receive instructions designed to give effect to policies which are basic to a government’s administration. Having this in mind, I direct attention to the following paragraph in Circular No. 167, which was issued for the Minister for Labour and National Service over the signature of the Deputy Director of Man Power, Mr. Bellemore, for it is pertinent and illuminating: -
I am informed by the Director-General of Man Power that the Minister for Labour and National Service has asked that immediate inquiries be made to ascertain whether there are non-unionists employed in any National Service Office, and should such be the case he desires that a direction be issued that all employees of the Department of Labour and National Service must be financial members of a bona fide Trade Union Organization covering their employment.
Please advise whether there are any nonunionists employed in your office-.
– Hear, hear! There is nothing wrong with that.
– In view of the superseded Minister’s interjection, I need say no more to substantiate that compulsory unionism is the policy of this Government. Pursuant to that policy, the Government has inflicted a penalty upon certain officers of this Parliament who are not unionists.
– That has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– With deference to your ruling, sir, I am endeavouring to prove that the policy to which effect must be given by the officers of the Government would be based on the policy of the Government itself. Therefore, if it were the intention of the Government to insist upon non-unionists becoming unionists, then coercive methods would be adopted by those officers.
– Order ! The motion distinctly refers to a strike at the works of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, and deals with the tactics employed by officers of the Government against employees at that factory.
– I consider that I am complying with the terms of that ruling, because I am endeavouring to establish the very point to which it refers. I believe compulsory unionism to be a part of the policy of the Government, and the direction which it has issued to its officers is that they shall at all times employ such measures as may be necessary to ensure that unionism shall prevail in respect of matters over which they can exercise control. The fact that the revenues raised in this country by means of taxes are being employed to give undue preference to unionists over non-unionists in the Public Service, proves conclusively that the Government is exerting unwarranted pressure on nonunionists. What crime has been committed by these women employees at the works of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited? Why should they be subjected to the persecution which they have had to suffer at the hands of responsible officers of the Government? Let us consider the conditions of their employment, in order to determine whether or not they committed a crime that would warrant this persecution. In the first place, they are in industry only because of the necessities of the war situation. Had the war not occurred, they would not now be engaged in the production of munitions, but would be attending to the domestic duties associated with their homes. Yet the Government says that persons who, in ordinary circumstances, engage in domestic duties but come to the aid of their country by working in munitions establishments must become unionists; in other words, they are not to be permitted to make munitions and equipment for the forces unless they are unionists. That would appear to be the only crime committed by these unfortunate women.
– There would not be production of munitions were it not for trade unionists.
– At the moment, the majority of Australians are nonunionists.
Government Members. - No
– The Commonwealth statistics will confirm that statement. Yet the Government, by the use of coercive methods through the agency of officers who have been appointed since it assumed office, is attempting to make unionism compulsory. I instance the activities of Mr. Garden. Government members deny that he is one who would use coercive methods. Yet the whole of his personal history furnishes examples of complete bias and coercion in respect of those who are not prepared to see eye to eye with him. I firmly believe that he told these women in no uncertain terms that they would be in dirt up to their necks unless they were prepared to join a union. Why? Because he is the liaison officer of the Minister who issued the instructions, and knows full well that he is carrying out the desires of that gentleman and of the Government. He is earning his bread and butter in the role of a militant officer of a trade union. We know that Mr. Bellemore ineffectively endeavoured to settle the dispute, and that Mr. Garden was equally ineffective in the efforts that he subsequently made. 1 am convinced that the investigation officers were sent along for the same purpose.
– The honorable member’s -time has expired.
.- I desire to clear up one or two inaccuracies in the statements of members of the Opposition in connexion with the dispute at the munitions annexe of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), who moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the matter, stated that the present trouble had arisen out of a dispute concerning the stoppage of work on Anzac Day. That is not the case; it occurred a long time prior to that date. Actually, the non-unionists employed at the establishment seized upon the dispute that occurred in respect of Anzac Day as a reason for resisting the representations of union officials that they should join an appropriate union. Over a long period the different unions have been enlarging their membership at the works of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited, and the stage had been reached at which only nine or ten employees were resisting their approaches. Those employees considered that they had a good reason which they could advance publicly for their refusal to become unionists. Evidence of their insincerity is furnished by the fact that not all the unions were involved in the dispute on Anzac Day; members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union worked on that date. Therefore, if these employees objected merely to the stoppage of work on that occasion, there was no earthly reason for their refusal to join that union. They objected not so much to what was done by the unions as to joining any union. All reasonable people at least now readily recognize that these individuals are not standing alone, but are backed by the United Australia party and other reactionary elements outside this Parliament, who want to foment industrial trouble in order to place difficulties in the path of the Government. Therefore, the struggle has become a political one. I suggest that if Mrs. Cassidy, despite all that has been said concerning her, had been removed from the workshop early in the dispute, it would have collapsed, and the other women employees and the one man involved would have been prepared to join an appropriate union. They have been strengthened in their attitude by assurances they have received from the United Australia party, from employers’ organizations, and from certain legal gentlemen who are outside the dispute. Let us examine their motives, without going into the details of the dispute. They say that their only purpose in entering into industry was to assist in furthering the war effort. What have they achieved? The number of man-hours lost on account of this dispute is well known. If they were to engage in war production for the next twenty years, assuming that the war lasted for that length of time, they could not repair the damage for which already they have been responsible. Even had they strong objections to joining a union, if they were so concerned about the war effort should they have regarded their per sonal feeling as of more importance than the prosecution of the war to the maximum of the nation’s capacity? The sensible thing for them to do was to withdraw from the industry, even if it meant the loss of their services to it, because it would have ensured at least a dozen other women employees, skilled in the work, being allowed to remain at their benches producing the munitions which are so vitally needed. But they claimed that their ideas must prevail. When they discovered that they could no longer work against the Amalgamated Engineering Union over the Anzac Day dispute, they hedged their proposal to join the union with so many conditions as to make it impossible of acceptance. One was a secret ballot before any strike took place. If they asked for a secret ballot on the question of whether or not a strike should take place we can only assume that if the decision of the ballot was in favour of a strike they would accept it. Let me put this to nonunionists : If it is right to say that they will accept the decision of a secret ballot regarding a strike, is it not equally right to ask them to accept the decision of the majority of the workers on the job in regard to membership of the union? The same principle is involved, and this is a case in which the will of the majority should prevail. What have these people been doing in regard to stepping up production? Mrs. Cassidy has been mentioned, and some question has been raised as to the efforts of the Department of Labour and National Service, which I control, to effect a settlement of the dispute. We had a conference at which the representatives of the Metal Trades Employers Association were present, with representatives of the trade union and the Department of Labour and National Service, and we received deputations from the men themselves and discussed every angle of the problem. They told me that even if Mrs. Cassidy left the work entirely production would not be affected. Several members of the deputation said that Mrs. Cassidy had spent a good deal of her time, before ever the dispute began, not in attending to the work for which she was paid, but in doing cross-word puzzles with the assistance of the foreman. On the other hand, how does she assist the war effort? She has a young child. When she decided to go into the factory, answering, according to honorable members opposite, the appeal to people engaged in domestic service to go into factories in order to increase the production of munitions, she had to engage a domestic to look after her child, so that while we gain one woman for the war effort we lose another. Therefore, she is not helping production. If she wanted to assist the war effort by increasing the production of munitions, the normal and proper thing for her to do, irrespective of her own feelings, was to stay at home and look after her own child, thus allowing the other woman to go into the factory to produce munitions.
Let me say a few words on behalf of Mr. Garden, who has been mentioned so frequently. Despite all the posturing of honorable members opposite, who, like the honorable member for Wentworth, take courses of study in Shakespearian art, Mr. Garden has done more in helping to secure a maximum war effort than any honorable member opposite who traduces him. Since his appointment to my department, he has been responsible for preventing innumerable strikes by going out and ascertaining the causes of trouble, and effecting settlements before stoppages occur. I have sufficient confidence in him to be sure that on this occasion he handled the matter as efficiently as he has handled all matters associated with the department since his appointment. He has not the opportunity of defending himself in this chamber, but he has done excellent work for the department and the Government. I make no apology for the protection I have given to employees in the Department of Labour and National Service. Whether honorable members opposite like it or not, this is a Labour Government, and our policy is to support the unions, which are the very basis of our political structure. We think that they should be strengthened and helped. What is wrong with the people accepting majority rule? Honorable members talk about the rights of individuals and the protection of our liberties. If a majority of employees in a particular establishment decides on a certain policy why should the minority object? If they belonged to the union they would have an opportunity of directing its course and determining its policy. This matter has on two occasions been to the court, which has endeavoured, without success, to settle it. When these people stubbornly resist and stand out, it makes me believe that they must be getting support from somewhere, and this can only be from interested outside organizations which desire to embarrass the Government. With that effort to embarrass the Government I associate honorable members who belong to the United Australia party and - the United Country party.
. - The suspended Minister has laid bare the actual facts of this case from his point of view. His attitude is that the rights of minorities are to be trampled in the mire, the dirt and the dust, so long as the dictatorship of the trade unions by certain individuals in Australia can be maintained. Nothing is too dreadful, according to him, to be inflicted upon any minority so long as it happens to stand in the way of successful control of the unions and the Government by those union heads. Surely the honorable member, who exhibited a great bent for literature overnight, has read about the village Hampdens and the mute inglorious Miltons of history. Surely he has sufficient perspicacity to realize that the basic cause of our resistance in this war is to that domination of minorities by huge majorities, which is so evident in Berlin, Rome and Moscow. Surely it is not to be argued in this country that some self-made leader of an industrial union is to be able, uncontrolled and untrammelled, to deny to any individual who places his services at the disposal of his country in order to provide the sinews of war the right to work unless he kowtows to this little self-made “joss “?
I shall oppose the principle of compulsory unionism in all circumstances and all conditions, and honorable members opposite can take that to the country with them. In this factory to which we are referring to-day there should be no such thing as compulsory unionism. The law of this country did, and does, give an award for all those engaged in certain industries. I believe that some variations have been made in that rule, but, as the actual awards stand, the person who happens to belong to a union gets better pay, privileges and conditions of labour than the person who does not. One of the first principles for which this Opposition is fighting is that every citizen shall be equal before the law. It does not matter a hang to me what that law is, whether it is industrial or of any other type. If the Commonwealth Government is going to maintain an industrial arbitration system there can be no such thing as persons in a factory becoming subject to variations in awards according to whether or not they happen to contribute to the funds of a union; there can be no policy of enhancing the prestige and power of trade union heads.
Something was said just now about a secret ballot. I do not believe that there should be any need for a secret ballot to decide the question of strikes. When an award has been given by the Arbitration Court the question of a strike should never arise. We have a system of industrial law under which all parties are supposed to accept the rule of law, and we cannot tolerate, side by side with that system, the claim of those who are dissatisfied with the ruling of the court that they have ‘the right to violate the law, and to force others to do the same. No government can get very far unless it upholds the rule of law in industry. There can be only one authority and one discipline in industry - the authority and discipline of the law of the country. We cannot tolerate the system of disorder introduced by certain “ red “ trade union secretaries and presidents. In every country in the world where these “ red “ gentlemen have obtained control, as no doubt they are trying to do in the factory under discussion, there has followed the introduction of either the Nazi system or the Fascist system. “ Red “ control in every instance has been the forerunner of the system which we are fighting to-day.
The four freedoms - on which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has made so much political play in this House - are not worth a hoot unless a man is guaranteed the right to work; and, incidentally, the right to work without having to pay tribute to some self-appointed “joss” in the Trades Hall in Sydney or Melbourne or Adelaide. Every man must enjoy the free and untrammelled right to work. It should not be subject to a condition that he must contribute to a fund for the propagation of certain political principles.
The Acting Attorney-General said that the people engaged in the dispute had been employed in the factory for over twelve months, yet it was only on the eve of the general elections that this trouble has arisen. If they have been employed there for so long, why did the trade union “ josses “ select this particular time to try conclusions with them? The genesis of the dispute is a demand by the trade union leaders that these employees join a union, and they could have made that demand immediately the people started work. However, they waited until it seemed to them that, politically speaking, their side might gain some advantage from a row of this kind. If the Government and its supporters think that they will get any marks in Australia, or among members of the armed forces, by attempting coercion of this kind, or by placing in authority such a man as the ex-member for Cook, Mr. Garden, they are in for a big shock on the 21st August next. There can be no compromise between honorable members on this side and those on the other side in regard to this foul issue of compulsory unionism. A man must have the right to work. If wages and conditions of labour are to be prescribed by law, then let those benefits be at the disposal of everybody - not merely those who pay into the funds of this or that trade union. There is too much tendency among honorable members on this side of the House to say, “ After all, these fellows may be ‘ red ‘, but they are a necessary evil, and we will kow-tow to them”. I do not believe in that. I believe that the only way to overcome this difficulty is for us to take our courage in both hands and fight them on every issue we can, and in every electorate. If that be done, I have no hesitation in forecasting - a thing which I seldom do - that these ward ‘ josses “ of the Trades Hall will be put in their proper places, which is in the cellar, instead of occupying places of authority on the upper floor.
.- It is obvious to every one who has studied the broad issues of this dispute that it is being fanned by the Opposition for political purposes. If it can be kept going until the date of the elections, members of the Opposition will be quite satisfied, because the dispute will then have served its purpose. It is evident that a section of the press, with the support of honorable members opposite, is trying to create industrial trouble in the hope of inflaming the minds of the people. During the election campaign of 1925, there was the celebrated Walsh and Johansen dispute. The then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, addressed a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall. I remember it well, because I was a candidate at the time. I remember the promise that he made to the people. He said, “If we get back into office on Saturday, I guarantee that Walsh and Johansen will be on the high seas “. We know that when his government was, unfortunately, returned to power, only a few days elapsed before Walsh and Johansen were released from Garden Island, because their detention had served its political purpose. I am sure that if honorable members opposite succeed in hoodwinking the public over this issue, the whole dispute will be forgotten the day after the elections are held.
It does not become the Opposition to attack the workers in this industry. Members of the Opposition themselves have not set a particularly good example in the matter of unity. There is not even unity in their own ranks, and, for the last twelve months, they have practically gone on strike, so far as the war effort is concerned. Day after day, motions have been introduced into this House with the sole object of obstructing the Government, and the result has been to impede the war effort. Any one who has inspected our war industries - I do not think that honorable members opposite have concerned themselves very much about them - knows that the men and women employed have been working long hours. They have had to put up with conditions and restrictions which do not normally apply. Many of them have to travel long distances to their work. Naturally, they are in an unsettled state of mind, and it does not take much to precipitate a dispute if they are not handled tactfully. I cannot imagine that the ten new workers at the Duly and Hansford annexe were particularly tactful.
Any one who is acquainted with the officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch knows that they are tactful and understanding men, who would not employ the methods attributed to them. As for the dispute itself, there is not very much between the point of view of the ten nonunionists and the rest of the workers. I understand that Mrs. Cassidy has publicly stated that she is quite prepared to join a union and “sink her principles “, as she put it. After all, we have all had to sink some of our principles for the sake of the war effort. The Labour party has had to abandon, temporarily at least, principles to which it has subscribed for years, because it is felt that nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of the war effort. Mrs. Cassidy has said that she is prepared to join a union, but she has demanded a certain undertaking in writing from the union. I understand that the conditions upon which she insists are really the same as those which the union leaders themselves seek to apply. They are asking the workers in industry not to hold up production. The union leaders have given an assurance in those terms, but Mrs. Cassidy says that she want3 an undertaking in writing. Are those not pin-pricking tactics? If Mrs. Cassidy is sincere, she should be prepared to accept the public assurances of union leaders, and should not humiliate them by asking that the assurances be given in writing. That is a ridiculous request. All along, the union leaders have put up with the pin-pricking tactics of certain elements in industry, including agents provocateur. In this dispute, the employers have not indicated that they arc prepared to approach these problems with tact and understanding, because they have submitted a list of approximately 40 workers whom they seek to have dismissed. By doing that they are fanning the flames. The press also is doing little to create a conciliatory atmosphere. The motion picture which honorable members saw yesterday, depicting the war effort of this country, showed clearly what Australian workers are doing, and it ill. becomes the press or any one else to endeavour to show these people up in a wrong light. They are doing real work in this war; although, for security reasons, the exact nature of it cannot be revealed, the results can be seen. The workers are not concerned only with the monetary aspect of their war job, and I contend that if an appeal be made to them in the right way they will give of their best, and keep the wheels of industry moving. If this dispute be not fanned by the press I am sure that it will flicker out very quickly.
.- 1 have listened with interest to the speeches of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), and other honorable members opposite. All sorts of smoke screens and red herrings have been produced in an attempt to divert attention from the real issue ‘in this dispute, namely, that nine women and one man are fighting for the liberty of individuals to exercise their free will. I remind honorable members opposite that right down through the ages the minorities have taken the lead and succeeded in converting the majorities to the right point of view. This fight for human liberty is as old as time itself, and I am confident that it will not be lost if it be put to the people of this country cla an election issue. Honorable members opposite may screech until the crack of doom, but they will never succeed in making the people of this country forgo the liberties that have been won during thousands of years. .Just what was the trouble at this factory? Nine women and one man were carrying on with their work and obeying the laws of this country. For doing no more than that they have been put on the rack, tortured by questioning and harrowed by agents of this Government while they have been endeavouring to turn out munitions to assist their rela tives in the fighting forces. The Minister for Supply and Shipping sneered at these women this afternoon, and said that he could not take the word of some of them. I remind the Minister that brothers and fathers of some of these women have lost their lives fighting for their country, and although I should not like to upset the honorable gentleman, I believe that the ghosts of these dead soldiers may haunt him, because he has spoken in that way of their relatives who are working hard in a munitions factory in order that our war effort may not fail. I draw the attention of the House to the following statement by Mr. G. A. Mooney, a conciliation commissioner of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in regard to this matter : -
Let us assume that a person undertakes work in an annexe as a war effort and he or she says, “ I do not care about wages. I am not asking any union to do anything for me. I want to help the war effort. It is true that I am on the pay-roll “. What harm is done to the union when that sort of person does not join the union? People of that sort cannot affect unions as such. They cannot weaken or strengthen a union whether they join a union or remain out of it, except, of course, as far as their contribution is concerned.
Mr. Mooney pointed out earlier in his statement that under the law as it stood people could not be forced to join a union. That is the law of Australia to-day, and yet we have the spectacle of the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service saying in this House that he does not know what the law is. He knows very well what the law is; it is that an individual cannot be compelled to join a union.
– Where is that the law?
– It is the law of the Commonwealth.
– It is nothing of the sort.
– I cannot help it if two eminent statesmen disagree. I am aware that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) is considered by himself to be ‘ one of the wisest men in Australia, but, unfortunately, an equally wise man, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), has said that that is the law of Australia. That opinion has been expressed also by Mr. Mooney, a conciliation commissioner of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court; but apparently the honorable member for Griffith sets himself up as a superior authority. The people involved in this dispute cannot he compelled by law to join a union, and the honorable member knows that; but there is another way in which they can be compelled, and that is by coercion. Illegal pressure can be brought to bear upon them to force them to give up their liberties, and join an organization, in whose principles they do not believe. Mr. Mooney also made this statement -
So far as the question of people joining the union is concerned - and I am now speaking personally as a member of a union - since its foundation - in my occupation, I agree with you that the people should join the union, but the question of compulsion is quite another matter.
If the unions are in a position to wave the “ hig stick “, if that is to be the rule of law in this country, I do not know what the war is about, for the war is supposed to be fought for liberty.
Is it to be liberty only for people outside Australia? Are people here to be coerced? Honorable gentlemen opposite profess a belief in the principles of freedom laid down in the Atlantic Charter, but they are humbugs because in this case they are breaking all those principles by trying to force people into a union. In the last century there occurred in Great Britain an incident to which the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) often refers, and which he mentioned in a preface which he wrote to a book regarding people who came to be known as the “ Tolpuddle Martyrs “. This hand of people tried to form an association of workers. They were unjustly tried, convicted, and finally transported to Tasmania, where they were imprisoned until a more enlightened government ordered their release. Those men had every right to organize an association, but they had no right, and they did not try, to coerce their fellow citizens into joining. Free men have the right to join or to refuse to join a union, and I hope that that right will never be lost. Mrs. Cassidy, the women who are standing with her, and the one lonely man, are doing a national service equal to that done by
John Hampden when he refused to pay the illegal levies made by Charles I. The analogy is complete.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), as every one knows, represents the wealthy grazing interests of this country, and one can readily realize that he would be totally opposed to trade unionism, which enables the workers to organize so that they shall be able to fight for better conditions. We know that the principals of the firm of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited are supporters of the United Australia party. In the firm’s employ are nine women and one man who are holding up the war industry of about 1,000 workers. I am told on reliable authority that Mr. Andrews, the man, is 25 years of age, is medically fit, and belongs to the firm of Andrews Limited, undertakers, Sydney. If that is so, the man-power authorities ought to put him into the Army instead of allowing him to dodge his duty to his country in a protected industry. Among the women is Mrs. Cassidy, wife of Mr. Cassidy, K.C. She has one child. Through going into industry, she has had to engage a young woman as a domestic servant. She would pay the domestic servant about fi 10s. a week and earn £5 or £6 a week herself. If she were sincere in her effort to assist the war the best service she could do would be to resign from the firm and allow the girl whom she is employing to take her place and earn a decent wage, probably for the first time in her life. I understand that when the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) asked the firm of Duly and Hansford Proprietary Limited for a job for a war widow, whose late husband served in the last war as well as in this war, he was told that there was no place for her. That firm will not employ war widows, but it readily gives jobs to socialites who would break down the principles of trade unionism.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 257b.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Bill 1943.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1943.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions (Reciprocity with New Zealand) Bill 1943.
Debate resumed from the 30th June vide page 614), on motion by Mr. Scully -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill is of great importance and constitutes a belated recognition by the Government of the necessity to alleviate the conditions of one of the most important land industries in Australia. The Joint Committee on Rural Industries was appointed by the previous Government to inquire into the dairy-farming and other rural industries, because it knew that the conditions of war had adversely affected all primary industries, especially those whose products were exported. That committee carried out a most exhaustive examination of the dairying industry, in particular, and made certain recommendations which this Government ignored. Pressure by the industry and the Opposition forced the Government to appoint a special committee, composed of men with an expert knowledge of the industry. The Government asked the committee to inquire into the ramifications of the industry and to furnish their report and recommendations expeditiously. The most important recommendation was that dairy-farmers should receive an increase of price equivalent to 3d. per lb. for butter-fat, and 2d. per lb. for cheese, to enable the industry to meet the needs of Australia and the Allied Nations, particularlyGreat Britain. Certain contractual obligations had been entered into with the Government of the United Kingdom on behalf of the dairying industry, but the calling up of manpower and the conditions of the industry generally had placed it in an appalling position. So unfavorable had the posi tion become that production had steadily declined, and the Government was forced, by the dire circumstances of the industry, to give belated recognition and support to it. Although the expert committee was asked to treat the matter as one of extreme urgency and made its report early in July last, the Government took no action to alleviate the position until the following October. Despite the recommendations of the committee that the dairy-farmers should receive an increase of 3d. per lb., the Government adopted a method of subsidy which was equivalent to an increase of only1d. per lb. I repeat that the recommendations of the committee, whichwere furnished to the Government in July, were ignored until October. The committee made certain recommendations with regard to the utilization of man-power, in order to step up production and to enable Australia to honour its obligations to the Government of Great Britain, as well as to meet the civil requirements of our own country. However, a subsidy of only1d. per lb. was reluctantly bestowed upon the industry. A press statement was published to the effect that, owing to the position of the food front of Australia, and in order to step up production, or at least prevent its decline, the Government decided to increase the subsidy, and to-day we have before us a bill which gives no guarantee to the industry as to the quantum of subsidy to be granted. Clause 4 of the bill states-
There shall be applied, in accordance with the regulations, in respect of each year ending the thirty-first day of March, in making payments to primary producers, such amounts as are appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose.
The industry is to be entirely dependent on the sympathy of the government of the day. In view of what the industry has experienced up to the present time, it cannot look forward with confidence to sympathetic treatment after the general elections.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) has informed us that the Government intends to increase the subsidy, which was to be £2,000,000 last October, to £6,500,000, but I emphasize that the industry has no guarantee as to the amount of subsidy that it will receive annually. It will be dependent for the future entirely on the circumstances of the time’ and on the government of the day. Only a temporary subsidy is to be granted to an industry which, because of its international obligations, should be stabilized and placed on a sound economic basis; otherwise it will be unable to meet the requirements of Australia and Great Britain. Yet a permanent obligation has been placed on the industry in the form of an industrial award. Nobody begrudges employees enjoying a fair standard of wages, based on Australian living conditions, but, in order that the industry may be able to provide such wages to its employees, it must be placed on a sound economic foundation. On the one hand the costs of production of the dairy-farmer have been permanently increased by awarding an increased rate of pay to employees, but the farmers have only a temporary subsidy to meet that increase. The Minister has said that the basic reason for bestowing the subsidy on the industry is to enable it to measure up to the requirements of Australia, and to meet its international obligations, particularly those to Great Britain. He also said that the export price of butter would depend on world parity and the price obtainable in the markets of the United Kingdom. He added that the subsidy was to be given in order to enable the industry to export butter, and to carry out its obligations to the Government of Great Britain”. ‘ Therefore, the Commonwealth Government recognizes that the present cost of production is not sufficiently low to enable the industry to export to the extent required. But side by side with the subsidy is an award which increases the costs of production. How can the industry expand to the degree that the Government optimistically anticipates when an award that it cannot meet has been inflicted upon it? Later, members of the Opposition will prove, by an analysis of the economic condition of the industry, that the bill is ill-advised.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition desire starvation conditions for the workers in the industry?
– I do not. I want Australian conditions and standards to apply in the dairying industry as in every other industry, but the first step is to place the industry on a sound basis so that it can bear those conditions. The scheme propounded by the Government is like Easter; it is a moveable feast. Although the subsidy is only temporary, a permanent condition in the form of an award for employees in the industry will be forced upon dairy-farmers. This gives rise to an anomaly. The cost of production will be placed upon a permanent basis, but only temporary assistance will be provided to enable the industry to meet that permanent condition. That alone is sufficient to condemn the Government’s plan as unworkable, unsympathetic, and unjust. The award should be reviewed in the light of existing conditions. The subsidy must be increased if the industry is to carry out the obligations of the Government to provide butter for the Australian civilian, the services, and the British public. I forecast that the award will drive many dairy-farmers from their properties, and compel others to reduce their herds so that they and their families will be able to manage without hired labour. Dairymen will also be compelled to work longer hours in order to meet the award conditions to which employees will be entitled, and the “ sweating “ of female and child labour will occur.
The Government has been obliged to ration butter. No Australian will begrudge being restricted to the consumption of half a pound of butter a week in order that supplies may be available for the public of Great Britain. Those people have undergone dreadful privations, and it behoves us to grant to them every assistance in our power. But if the Government had heeded the advice of those directly associated with the industry, and members of the Opposition, dairying would not be in its present serious position, and the rationing of butter would not be necessary.
– Previous governments, of which the right honorable gentleman was a member, did not assist the dairying industry.
– The industry did not require assistance then, because the Government had placed it upon a sound economic basis. However, that matter is not relevant to this debate. The House must consider the present position of the dairying industry. Its serious plight has been brought about because the Government refused to take the advice of experts and of the special committee which it created to investigate the position. The Government procrastinated, with the result that the rationing of butter has been forced upon the community in order to enable the Government to honour its obligations to the United Kingdom. The present proposals of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture reveal the bill to be unreal, unsympathetic and ill-considered.
.- I support the bill. During the last twelve months the Labour Government has granted to dairy-farmers subsidies of £2,000,000 and £4,500,000, making a total of £6,500,000. The Joint Committee on Rural Industries carefully examined the problems of the dairying industry, and found that it was in a deplorable condition. The work was being carried on by women and children, who were virtually unpaid slaves. The joint committee recommended that the price of dairy produce should be considerably increased, and this bill implements in some measure those recommendations. I am firmly of opinion that at least the basic wage should be paid to all employees in the industry, and at least a basic wage, plus the cost of production, should be paid to the employers. Exhaustive inquiries have revealed that ls. 6d. per lb. would be a fair price. Practically 90 per cent, of the work on dairy farms is carried out by female labour. I am gratified that the increased subsidy will be made retrospective to the 1st April. The wages of employees in the industry have been fixed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and surely honorable members do not object to that. Objection has been taken to the term “ subsidy “. Some people regard this form of financial assistance as the “ dole “. But the subsidy system is in operation in Great Britain, the United States of America, and New Zealand, for the express purpose of preventing the spiralling of prices to the consumer. Commonwealth and State committees will be appointed to super vise the adjustment of the payment of the subsidy. This will be particularly necessary in share-farming. Honorable members will be interested in the following comments by a correspondent : -
I believe the new plan is an honest attempt to help. But is not the trouble deeper? 1 have made wide inquiries, and I dare say you have in your wanderings. Is not it the “ cost “ you have got to get at ? The excessive cost of land, the blood-sucking interest of the money-bags, who finance most farmers; the excessive cost of individual sets of machinery for each holding. It angers me to hear some “ mortgagees “ talking of the “ kindness “ of bankers in allowing them to carry on. “Kindness”, mind you, at at least 5 per cent, and with the good earth as security. This is never mentioned in farmers’ protests. Maybe they fear their so “ kind “ creditors.
The trouble goes deeper than that. As the result of investigations that I have made, I find that the trouble is due principally to excessive prices being paid for land, entailing heavy interest payments to financiers, high costs of machinery and machinery parts, and the purchase of separate machinery for individual holdings. It angers me to hear people talk of the kindness of bankers and financiers. There is no kindness in charging interest at the rate of at least 5 per cent, per annum with the good earth as security. The dairymen are in economic fear of their “ kind “ creditors, but that fact is not frequently mentioned. I have heard of sharefarmers being required to buy all the machinery used on the farms which they operate and with having to pay half the rates imposed by the local authority. That is most unfair. In order to give to the farmers a fair deal, district agricultural committees have been appointed throughout the Commonwealth. I have pleasure in supporting the bill, which is the result of careful consideration and will be of great benefit to the industry. lt may not be perfect, but should experience reveal anomalies, they can be remedied. I cannot understand the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). I should like the right honorable gentleman to tell the House what previous governments have done for the primary producers of this country, particularly the dairymen. With the exception of a short period, anti-Labour governments were in office for a quarter of a century before the Curtin Government came into power, but they did not do anything of value for the primary producers. It remained for the Curtin Government to give a fair deal to dairy-farmers and others engaged in rural industries.
.- lt is a remarkable coincidence that this bill, which apparently will be the last’ legislation to be introduced into this Parliament, should come before us on the day that we have been informed that the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) intends to retire from this Parliament. It will be admitted by members of all parties, and by the people of Australia generally, that no person in Australia has done more for the dairying industry than has the honorable member for Gippsland. Before dealing with the bill, I may be permitted to refer to the work that he has done, and to say how much I, as his colleague for over twenty years, will miss his friendship and counsel. The honorable member for Gippsland came into this Parliament over twenty years ago, and almost at once he introduced a proposal to raise the price paid to dairymen for their butter. The scheme involved a levy on the total quantity of butter, produced, sufficient to enable a bounty to be paid in respect of the butter exported. Up to that time, dairymen received the price that the butter brought in London, less the cost of transport. By means of his scheme, a home consumption price was paid to dairy-farmers and the result was that they benefited by about £4,000,000 a year. As the scheme has been in operation, in one form or another, for about twenty years, it is obvious that the honorable gentleman has assisted the dairying industry to an amount of approximately £80,000,000. But the honorable member did more than that for the dairying industry. He has always been active to prevent any attempt to destroy the methods that have been adopted to assist the industry. At all times he gave to me, while I was leader of the Country party in this Parliament, his fullest co-operation in any effort to assist the dairy-farmers. The Dairy Produce Export Control Board was established, and it is still carrying out the function of handling the export of dairy produce. It is gratifying to know that Mr. Plunkett, the present chairman of the board, who is a constituent of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has been on the board since its establishment.
– He has done excellent work.
– He has indeed done yeoman service for the dairying industry - a fact which the presentMinister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) fully recognizes. The. Minister is availing himself fully of Mr. Plunkett’s services. When the Paterson butter scheme had been in operation four or five years, an attempt to wreck it by importing butter from New Zealand was made. At that time, there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on New Zealand butter. I took the necessary action to raise the duty to 6d. per lb., thereby ensuring that the homeconsumption price method of dealing with butter would be maintained. The original scheme was modified in that the levy was no longer imposed. An acquisition committee was formed, and I am glad that the present Minister is asking that body to distribute the sum to be provided for the assistance of the industry under this bill.
– Under the Paterson scheme, producers were paid as low as 8£d. per lb. for their butter, and governments of which . the right honorable gentleman was a member did nothing about it.
– It is true that, at times, the price paid to the dairymen was low, but it is not correct to say that the governments of which I was a member did nothing about it. They did a great deal. On one occasion I was specially asked by the dairying industry to go to Byron Bay in order to receive the thanks of the industry for the wonderful assistance that the government of the day had given to it by securing the 6d. duty against the entry of New Zealand butter. Moreover, those governments made arrangements with the government of Great Britain which ensured a market for Australian butter in that country. Preferential treatment was given to the Australian product, and the quantity of butter imported from Denmark was reduced in order to enable Australian and New Zealand butter to find ready sale. I was responsible for the “ Kangaroo “ brand being placed on Australian butter of the highest quality. The immediate effect was to raise the price paid for that butter by 10s. a cwt. That brought it to within about ls. of the price of New Zealand butter, which previously had brought lis. or 12s. a cwt. more in the British market. Danish butter, had previously been sold for about 20s. a cwt. more than Australian butter. That increased price represented about £2,000,000 a year to the dairying industry of Australia, and as it had been received continuously since 1923, it represents another £40,000,000 which that action has brought to the dairying industry. Every organization connected with the dairying industry in ‘this country was established by governments with which I was associated and under my direct ministerial control. The benefit of that organization of the industry was evident immediately before the war. When the price of Australian butter in Britain dropped to S5s. a cwt., the home-consumption price was maintained in Australia. The result was that the average price received by dairymen for their butter, even in the midst of the depression, was 101s. a cwt. As the result of the operations of the organization which I brought into being, the price of butter at the factory rose from 101s. a cwt. in 1935 to 143s. a cwt. in 1939, the year in which the war broke out. That means that an additional sum of £8,000,000 was received by the dairymen during the year 1939-4’0. Those figures were supplied to me by officers of the Equalization Board when I was Minister for Commerce. Because of the main agreement made by me in 1938, while on a visit to the United Kingdom, for Britain to take all our surplus butter in the event of war - that was eighteen months before the outbreak of the war - all that remained to be decided upon after -my negotiations with Sir Herbert French was the actual price to be paid under the contract when war actually broke out. That agreement was received throughout the dairy ing industry in this country as a very good deal ; and that view was shared in official quarters as well. To-day, however, conditions have changed completely. After the war broke out, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner became responsible ultimately for dealing with matters of this kind. Since his appointment the industry has been obliged to apply to him for an increase of the prices of dairy products; and eighteen months ago he awarded an increase of the price of butter by Id. per lb. The Government of the day did not give that increase on its own initiative, and it would not have approved it but for the fact that it had been recommended by the Prices Commissioner.
However, I do not say that my party is the only party that has done anything for the industry ; all I can say is that we laid the foundations of its progress. This bill definitely recognizes principles for which I have been fighting for many years. Although the bill does not completely apply those principles to the circumstances existing to-day, I, and I am sure the great, majority of dairymen in Australia, will accept with gratitude the degree to which it makes provision in that direction. Speaking for myself, I shall continue to fight to have the anomalies still remaining in the industry scientifically adjusted. What are the principles embodied in this measure? First, it recognizes that the best way to maintain and stimulate production is to make the price to the producer remunerative. Under this bill the Government recognizes that unless that be done, producers will stop producing because of difficulties -arising from various adverse factors, such as weather conditions, increased costs, shortage of fertilizer and man-power, many of the last-named having arisen as the result of the administration of this Government. As a matter of fact, production has already commenced to decrease. We must remember that once production decreases to a serious degree it does so comparatively suddenly, yet it will take many years to restore the normal rate of production. As I have said, the principle of a remunerative price is at last recognized under this measure. But it must be amplified into a ten-year guarantee of remunerative prices to permit of the breeding of stock, and to give security to the investment of capital in the industry. “We must remember that, during the last twenty years, despite the wailings of Jeremiahs about the position of the industry, the number of dairy cow3 in Australia has increased from 1,700,000 in 1919 to 3,400,000 in 1939, the production of butter has been doubled, and the number of men engaged in the industry has increased from 57,000 to 128,000, whilst in the same period the value of machinery used in the industry has increased from £1,000,000 to £6,400,000. Therefore, during a considerable portion of that period - in fact up to the time of the depression - the industry enjoyed a substantial measure of prosperity. In order to ensure not only a continuance of the present rate of production but also an increase we must apply guarantees of this kind over a period sufficient to enable farmers to breed heifers and increase the number of cows to the necessary numbers. I have always maintained that dairying is par excellence the industry best suited to encourage home life in Australia. Through the provision of fair wages, workers will be attracted to the farms, and will be encouraged to stay on the land. That policy will be in the interests of the peace of Australia and the Empire, and also the world.
Secondly, the bill recognizes that the conditions of labour in primary industries must be made comparable to those in secondary industry, and equally as attractive so far as monetary returns are concerned. Many people object to the payment of standard wages to farm workers, or to farmers themselves. I agree with that policy of ensuring good wages because it offers an effective means of attracting nien and women of the best types to the land. I shall deal more fully with that aspect later; hut, in passing, I mention that in applying this principle to the industry, the Government will be brought to realize that it must do more for the industry than it proposes to do under this measure.
Thirdly, the bill recognizes the fact that if the price to the consumer, consequent upon the application of the two principles I have just mentioned, is too nigh to ensure that the health of the corn-
Sir Earle Page. munity will be maintained by ample consumption of dairy products, a consumer subsidy, as distinct from a producer subsidy, must be provided out of general revenue in order to maintain a price that will stimulate production, and, at tha same time, be within the purchasing power of the consumer.
The last principle embodied in the measure is the recognition that for the maintenance of the health of individuals and of the nation, the stabilization of wages, the maintenance of retail, prices at a steady level, the curbing of inflation, and the improvement of the general psychology and morale of the nation, effective assistance to the industry is worth many times the cost of a subsidy. The amount of the subsidy proposed under- this measure is not sufficient. Experience in Britain has shown that production cannot be stimulated unless prices are stabilized at such a level as will give a fair return to the producer, and, at the same time, be within the purchasing power of the consumer. To ignore this principle in subsidizing the industry is simply to throw money away. Therefore, I propose to examine the bill from that point of view. The linking of this assistance to wages conditions enables us to see at a glance whether the amount of the subsidy is sufficient to stimulate production. The first result of that policy is that the industry will no longer be obliged to make out a case for itself. That responsibility will now devolve upon the Arbitration Court. Clause 6 stipulates that no producer shall qualify for the subsidy unless he pays the award wage to his employees. Therefore, the only calculation needed to discover -the minimum amount of subsidy required to enable the producer to pay that wage is to multiply the amount of the wages prescribed in the award by the number of males and females employed in the industry.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The avowed object of the Government, as I understand it, is to enable ls. 6d. per lb. to be paid to the farmer for butter at the factory. I have taken the production figures for 1939-40 in order to ascertain exactly what will be the position of the dairy-farmer when that amount has been paid to him. They are the last figures available to me; but they approximate the position in any other year. In 1939-40 the production of butter totalled 470,000,000 lb. If we multiply that by ls. 6d. we find that the total return to the industry is £35,550,000. The multiplication of the male basic wage by 121,000 and the female basic -wage by 27,000 - these being respectively the number of males and females working in the industry - makes the total wages bill £34,750,000. The- Commonwealth YearBooh sets out that in the same year the value of the machinery employed on dairy farms was £6,421,000. It is reasonable to allow 10 per cent, for the depreciation and replacement of that machinery. On that basis, the annual inescapable charge on that account ‘would be £642,000. That makes the total wages and inescapable costs £35,392,000, compared with total receipts of £35,550,000, which is a .return of £160,000 on a total capital investment of at least £160,000,000, or less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. A very low average value of the 3,500,000 dairy cows that are on the dairy farms would be £6 each, or a total ‘0f £21,000,000. There are 70,000 dairy farms which are producing milk for butter. The average value of a dairy farm in Australia is well above £2,000, but I adopt that figure for the. purpose of calculation. Thus the total value of the 70,000 dairy farms is at least £140,000,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the capital invested in the industry, apart from the machinery employed in it, is at least £160,000,000. When the wages fixed by the Arbitration Court have been paid to the -workers engaged in the industry, including the man who owns and works his farm, the return on the whole investment will be less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. At the price which it is now suggested the dairyman should receive for his product, it is obvious that the industry is substantially subsidizing the cost of living in Australia. That the Government also should pay a subsidy is eminently reasonable. [ have figures which show how costs have grown. The basic wage has increased from £4 to £4 16s. a week since the outbreak of the war. The largest proportion of that increase has occurred during the last twenty months. If we assume that the increase of wages represents one-fifth of the aggregate increase of costs, it is obvious that, as the amount paid in wages totals £34,750,000, approximately £7,000,000 is needed to offset the increase. Labour members suggest that the industry was depressed before the Government which they support came to its assistance. If the increase of the basic wage has been responsible for the total amount paid having risen by £7,000,000, the industry will still be entitled to further assistance even after it has received the subsidy of £6,500,000. I consider that not merely butter but also milk should be available at the lowest possible cost to the consumers, especially to women and growing children. Unless in respect of labour and the capital invested we enable this industry to compete with other industries, its output ( will decline, and because of the resultant scarcity we shall be faced with higher and still higher prices. It may be said that there are offsetting factors. It is true that many dairymen raise pigs. Those who produce for the manufacture of cheese cannot do so. But the return from all the pigs that are raised on dairy farms would not amount to more than £3,000,000 a year. A return of 5 per cent, on the £160,000,000 invested in the industry must be accepted as a reasonable one. This would amount to £8,000,000. Therefore, even if £3,000,000 be derived from pig production, the dairyman is still in the position of having to secure an additional £5,000,000.
– The producers were in the depths of despondency while the right honorable gentleman was in office, and they are now at the peak of prosperity. ‘
– I have not seen them at the peak of prosperity throughout the dairying districts in my electorate. There is a great deal of trepidation as to the future. They are glad to note that something is being done on their behalf, but are worried as to whether or not it is sufficient. They axe anxious to maintain production for the sake of themselves, their customers, and the people of the world at large.
I congratulate the Government, and express gratitude for its having at last undertaken to deal with this matter on the right lines. Since I returned from England, I have not ceased to urge this policy upon it. Having put our shoulder to the wheel, let us not slacken our efforts until the industry has been placed on a basis which will enable it to stand four-square to competition in every respect. I regard dairying as the best home-building industry, and as one that is most necessary for the health and well-being of the people of this country. It supplies essential foods, which contain necessary vitamins. Let us make its position absolutely unassailable. If that be done, the war will have been of some advantage to an essential industry.
.- It is not usual for members who represent metropolitan constituencies to participate in debates which affect directly those who are engaged in primary production; but the circumstances in which we find ourselves are exceptional, and, in consequence, I consider .that I owe it to my supporters to make certain comments.
In the first place, may I make it clear that in my opinion those who live in the cities do not begrudge this measure of assistance to the dairying industry.
– It is the first occasion on which the honorable gentleman has shown himself to be a statesman.
– Although my experience of the land has not been so extensive as has that of the honorable member, still it is not altogether negligible. I share the view which I am sure he holds, that there is no more hard-working, industrious and conscientious section of the primary producers than the dairy-farmers. To the degree to which this assistance will make their lot somewhat more attractive, it is to be welcomed by all sections in this House. But I entertain a very serious doubt as to whether or not this measure, substantial enough though it may be in a financial sense, will cure the real ills of the industry. The Government must by now be aware of the concern and, in fact, the deep dissatisfaction of the people who live in the cities in relation to the food problem generally. I believe it to be correct to say that no aspect of our war effort in the last eighteen months has been more grossly mishandled than has the matter of food production and distribution. I do not lay the blame entirely at the door of the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). I am aware of many of the difficulties with which he has had to contend. In the early stages, it appeared that the demands for manpower for what seemed to be more urgent and desperate tasks, complicated his problem very considerably. It is, however, proper to point out that this Government set up a special committee to investigate the problems of the dairying industry. That committee presented a report on the 11th July, 1942. As I understand the matter, it made three definite recommendations. The first was to the effect that the industry should be declared a protected industry. The second was that man-power, which had drifted from the industry, should be returned to it. The third was that there should be paid to the industry, by way of assistance, a price which would enable it to conduct its operations profitably and enable the dairy-farmer to secure labour under conditions which compared reasonably with those which his employees could obtain in the cities. The committee made the forecast that the production of butter in 1942-43 would be 162,000 tons, compared with an essential requirement of 195,000- tons, leaving a deficiency of 33,000 tons. The last figures that I have show that the gloomy forecast of the committee is being realized ; because in the month of April of this year the quantity of butter produced in Australian butter factories declined by 3,000 tons compared with the production for April of last year, the respective figures being 9,058 tons and 12,077 tons. Although that report was made on the 11th July, 1942, Mr. Murphy, the newly appointed Controller of Food Production - his appointment, I remind the House, is the last of a series of expedients to which the Government has resorted in order to deal with this matter - has pointed out that man-power is the main problem of the new food control organization. He has said that the industries which supply dairy produce and vegetables are the very industries which have been most severely denuded of labour, and that transport is the principal “ snag “ in providing food for the people. Luckily, he has said, there is no shortage of flour or of cereal products; ‘but there are real difficulties ahead in maintaining supplies of meat and eggs. In his opinion, the task of getting labour back to the dairying industry and to vegetable production is the crux of the whole position. It is the shortage, and in some instances the absence, of what the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has rightly called protective foods, which has caused so much concern and dissatisfaction among the housewives in city areas. In Great Britain, with all its difficulties, a pint of milk a day was made available to women and children, but in Sydney, up to a week ago, a family of four was allowed only a pint a day.
– That was for only a few weeks.
– That may be, but in this country, which is blessed with favorable conditions of climate and soil, there should be no shortage of the protective foods such as milk, butter, eggs, cheese, vegetables and fruit; yet dairy products were scarce, while vegetables and fruit sold at high prices, and were in very short supply. We know that there are regular seasonal shortages, whether in peace-time or in war-time, but much of the responsibility for recent shortages lies with the Government for its mishandling of the man-power situation. On the 11th July, 1942, an expert committee presented a report on the matter, yet we are still groping for a solution of the problem. The newly appointed Food Controller, twelve months after the committee presented its report, says that the crux of the problem is still man-power. I think it was Lloyd George who said, during the last war, that if the Army authorities had had their way, an additional 100,000 men would have been taken into the forces. These men, he said, could not, of themselves, have made any difference so far as victory or failure was concerned, but their absence from essential production, particularly food production, could have had a disastrous effect on the country’s war effort. That has been our experience in Australia. The unbalanced use of man-power, and the complete disregard of essential requirements, have been largely responsible for the present situation.
I suggest that the tasks which form the basis of effective food control are these : -
To these may be added the desirable objective of accumulating food reserves for post-war relief to the starving millions of the world. The manner in which the new Pood Controller and the Government discharge these tasks will be the answer to the accusation that, up to the present time, the handling of the production and distribution of food has been one of the weakest features of the present Administration.
– There should be no need for me to address the House in order to commend this measure to the country and to the primary producers, but certain observations have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), and repeated by the honorable member for
Fawkner (Mr. Holt), which require an answer. They said, in effect, that butter rationing had to be introduced at this stage because of the bungling of the manpower situation by the Government. I propose to show that, far from that being the case, the situation to-day with regard to butter rationing is the result of decisions taken long ago, decisions to which the Leader of the Opposition was a party, and which were approved by all the members of the Advisory War Council.
– Of course. The circumstances made it necessary.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition imply that his function as a member of the Advisory War Council isto approve everything that comes before him?
– The circumstances warranted it.
– Those were the circumstances in which the country found itself at that time. The Leader of the Opposition said this afternoon that, if tie Government had heeded the advice of those directly associated with the industry, and of members of the Opposition, the dairying industry would not be in its present serious position, and the rationing of butter would not be necessary. He was repeating a statement previously made by him, and reported as follows in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 7th June: -
Butter rationing could have been avoided but for the Curtin Government’s bungling of rural man-power distribution and its tardiness in rendering assistance to butter producers.
Those charges were repeated by the honorable member for Fawkner. In order to understand the reason for butter rationing, it is necessary to understand the rhythm of production in the dairying industry. Butter production takes place during certain specified seasons, beginning with the spring flush, going on through summer, and tapering off in the late autumn. During spring and summer, an excess of butter is produced, and this surplus is stored for use during the winter. If the rationing of butter at the present time was to have been avoided, the decision regarding the scale of production would have had to be taken away back in last October. Let us examine the position existing at that time. The honorable member for Fawkner said that the expert committee on the dairying industry made its report in July last. If butter production was to be continued on a scale necessary to avoid rationing, a Certain amount of man-power would have had to be released, but in July and October of last year the battle for Australia was still on. If the scale of consumption of 10.2 oz. per head of population per week was to be maintained, an extra 1,000,000 lb. of butter would have had to be produced, and for this it would have been necessary to release 5,000 men from the Army in October of last year. The Government had to decide whether the military situation was such that it could afford to release 5,000 men at that time, and the Government decided that it could not take the risk. Therefore, in October last, the Government decided that, some time in the following winter, butter rationing would probably have to be introduced. The members of the Advisory War Council knew of this. Since I have been Minister for War Organization of Industry, I have from time to time made out a balance-sheet of the man-power of this nation. I have shown how man-power was being used; what proportion was in the services, and what proportions were in the various branches of industry, including the primary industries. Those balance-sheets were placed before the War Cabinet and, on this occasion, they were placed before the Advisory War Council.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that the Advisory War Council determines the policy of the Government ?
– No, but the Advisory War Council endorsed the policy of the Government on this occasion. It was a party to the decision reached. I propose to read the actual decision which the council took on that occasion. The balance-sheet on man-power was placed before the War Cabinet in September of last year, and certain recommendations were approved. These were taken by the Prime Minister to the Advisory War Council. I was not present, but I quote here the following extract from the submission : - 9.Rural Man Power -
– Did the Government divert men from otherrural industries?
– How many?
– I have not the figures here.
– That was done in order to fulfil our obligations to the Government of the United Kingdom.
– The submission in regard to man-power was a document of many pages. It is impossible to make a balance-sheet of the man-power of the nation on , a couple of sheets of foolscap. It was set out in the submission that man-power was so urgently required for reinforcements, for Allied Works Council undertakings, munitions, &c, that it was impossible for any more men to be released from the war effort for primary production. That decision was endorsed by the Advisory War Council.
– I have no recollection whatever of it.
– I am stating a fact.
– Is it to become the practice to disclose in the House what goes on in the Advisory War Council? If so, I have some disclosures to make.
– When the Leader of the Opposition uses his position completely to misrepresent the reasons for the introduction of butter rationing-
– I did no such thing.
– From the point of view of national security, there is no reason why these facts should not be made public to-day. The public is entitled to know that the Leader of the Opposition was a party to the decision which resulted in the rationing of butter.
– If the Minister is to proceed on those lines he should state all that the Advisory War Council did. For instance, I recommended that the attention of the Government be directed to the scarcity of vegetables and fruit, but no notice was taken of my warning. The Minister is quoting something about which he knows nothing.
– I am concerned only with matters about which I know something.
– But the Minister does not know.
– He was not there.
– I was not there, and therefore I did not hear the discussions, but I have been advised of what took place. Naturally, if I made a submission to War Cabinet, and that submission were referred to the Advisory War Council for endorsement, I would ask the Prime Minister or one of my colleagues on the council what fate it met.
– The Advisory War Council does not make decisions.
– The Advisory War Council endorsed recommendations which already had been approved by the War Cabinet in regard to the man-power situation at the time when the decision in regard to butter rationing had to be made.
– In order to maintain supplies to the United Kingdom.
– The right honorable gentleman cannot bring that into it. That is only a summary of the recommendations. The submission itself covered many objections and set out in great detail the reasons why man-power could not be released from the fighting services as that stage. The right honorable gentleman accepted the position at that date, but now, as Leader of the Opposition, he sees a situation out of which he may make some political capital. Not only did the Advisory War Council agree with the War Cabinet’s recommendations, but the right honorable gentleman will recollect that, in October, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) made a speech in this chamber in which he advocated practically the selfsame thing. On page 871 of Hansard the right honorable member for Cowper is reported as saying -
We should ration all food products with the exception of wheat.
At a later stage he said -
Immediate steps should be taken to rationalize all our requirements. We should determine which are essential, and which are non-essential items, and then ensure that the essential items, in particular, are rationed . . .
Members of the Opposition are endeavouring to make political capital out of the fact that it has been necessary to ration certain foods despite the fact that, so far back as last October, the right honorable member for Cowper recommended the rationing of all foodstuffs except wheat, and that the members of the Advisory “War Council approved the decision which, as I have said, resulted in the rationing of butter.
– How does the Minister know that?
– I have a minute of the Advisory War Council.
– Then the Minister should not have it.
– To show that the passing of this measure will be received with great enthusiasm by the dairying industry, I quote the following statement from the Primary Producer, of the 23rd April : -
The announcement this week of the Federal Government’s decision to increase materially by way of additional subsidy the returns received by dairy-farmers for their butter, cheese and milk for. processing has been immediately reflected in the producers’ outlook regarding the future. For the first time in many years, certainly for the first time since the outbreak of war, they are, so far as can be judged from the information available, to be put on an economic footing which can provide at least the minimum basis for the vital task confronting them, the production of the protective foods so urgently needed by the fighting men and civil populations of Australia and Great Britain and the armed forces of our Allies in the South-West Pacific.
In a broadcast over the national network on Friday, the 25th June, the president of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, Mr. G. <3. Howey, said -
In submitting its recommendations, the Special Committee-
That is the committee to which the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) referred - considered the farmer as a labour unit, and in his case asked for a margin of 25s. per week for managerial responsibility and ability, a sum which was considered little enough.
Farmers may be surprised to know that had it not been for this margin of 25s., the subsidy would have been almost lid. per lb. less.
In reply to the statement by the right honorable member for Cowper that most of this subsidy would be taken up in paying increased wages to employees in the dairying industry, I draw attention to the following passage in Mr. Howey’s speech : - in actual practice, our industry is mainly carried on by family labour which means a sharing within the family of farm receipts. The real effect of the subsidy, consequently, will be that the pool of family income will be increased by approximately 25 per cent.
Finally, Mr. Howey said -
Before concluding let me again emphasize the cardinal point that whilst perhaps 5 per cent, of our dairy-farmers may, as employers of outside labour, be affected by the award, the whole 100 per cent, will benefit by the provision of a subsidy which will considerably augment family earnings.
The dairy-farmers throughout the Commonwealth have received news of this measure with the greatest enthusiasm. The bill will merely give to the dairying industry a measure of justice to which it has been entitled for many years, and which the Opposition parties when in power, failed to give.
.- I have listened with interest to the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), and I do not propose to discuss the contents of files relating to the proceedings of the Advisory War Council. I am confident that if the Minister is a reasonable man, he cannot possibly derive any satisfaction from the labour conditions in our primary industries to-day. I have a substantial file of letters written to me by dairyfarmers complaining of the extraordinary conditions in that industry. I ask the Minister whether he can be satisfied about the state of affairs indicated in the following letter: -
I am very grateful to you for your endeavour to get the release of my son, QX35844. from the services for service on our farm, and feel sure that the investigating authorities referred to by Mr. Forde do not realize the situations. For instance, my wife is confined to her bed from complete exhaustion through over working on the dairy farm, which leaves me alone to milk 40 cows, feed calves and pigs, &c, and it will be only a matter of days before I am in the same position.
I have a big patch of corn to be gathered but am unable to do so for want of help. With my son’s help I could fatten another 40 pigs and keep the herd going, but unless I got help (which is impossible locally) the herd will have to go, also the pigs. We have endeavoured to do our best for the country and were proud to allow our boy to join the Australian Imperial Force when there was a little help to be got locally, but now that is impossible to get assistance of any kind.
According to Mr. Curtin’s announcement to the world the fear of invasion is now past, our boy would be doing a better service to the country by retaining a herd of cows from going dry. I may say it is from no selfish motive that we require his services, rather the other way. I served in the Coldstream Guards for five years, three years on active service in the Boer War, and am* not as young as I was then, but am still as anxious to do my bit as I was then, but it is a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I am becoming exhausted also. Will soon be unable to carry on.
Another of the many letters that I have received reads as follows -
In the last letter we had from you, von stated that Mr. Forde had the releasing of the mcn for rural industries, so we again got in touch with Mr. Forde when there was talk about releasing 5,000 men and he informs us it is for the Military authorities to decide.
After investigating the case, he informs us that Army girls can do the work. Now that may be all right in some cases, but in my case it is quite impossible. My wife is a complete cripple with rheumatism and has three ulcers on her legs from varicose veins. They are so painful she cries for hours of a night, and it’s impossible for her to sleep. How can a woman in such pain care for Land Army girls?
I could produce many letters of that kind. Can the Minister claim that those conditions have been created by some resolution of the Advisory War Council? This measure is far from adequate. However, before dealing with that phase of the matter, I should like to join with the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in extending good wishes to the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) who has announced his intention not to contest the forthcoming elections on the ground of ill health. The honorable member has a record of service to the dairying industry which cannot be equalled. I had the pleasure of coming into this Parliament at the same time as the honorable member, and within the first two or three days of our meeting we formed a firm friendship which has continued ever since. I have the highest regard and admiration for the honorable member, particularly because of the valuable assistance that he has rendered to the dairying industry. I had many discussions with him in the early days when he was drafting what is now known as the Paterson bounty scheme, which has meant at least £2,000,000 a year to the dairy-farmers since it was introduced. The honorable member also played a great part in the development of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board. In those days all Australia’s dairy products that went to Great Britain lost their identity on the British market. Our firstclass Australian butter was blended with inferior butter from the Balkan States and other European countries and sold under the usual trade brands, and the profit that should legitimately have come to the Australian dairy-farmers went to the blenders. The Dairy Produce Export Control Board was established under the guidance of the honorable member for Gippsland and as the result Australia’s butter is now sold on the British market under the “ Kangaroo “ brand. Before that organization was established Australia butter always sold at 10s. a ton less than NewZealand butter, but at the beginning of the war its price was equal to or better than that of butter from our sister dominion. The honorable member for Gippsland and the Opposition parties therefore have every reason for satisfaction at what they have done for the Australian dairy-farmers. Another effort by the honorable member for Gippsland and his colleagues to assist the dairying industry was the imposition of a substantial tariff on imported butter. As we all know, Australia is subject to periodical droughts, during which our butter production falls away. Before the duty was imposed, the New Zealand producers used to ship great quantities of butter to Australia in order to reap the benefit of the higher prices that resulted from the shortage of local supplies, the Australian producers lost the benefit of those higher prices. With a’ heavy duty on New Zealand butter the Australian market is now preserved to local producers. The honorable member for Gippsland also had a hand in the equalization scheme, which has yielded millions of pounds to the dairying industry. In conjunction with the Dairy
Produce Export Control Board the committee administering that scheme was able, on behalf of a group of dairy producers, to obtain reduced freights and insurance premiums on cargoes to Great Britain. Tens of millions of pounds have thereby been saved to the Australian industry. Preferential treatment on the British market has also been of substantial assistance to the dairy producers. Ninety-eight per cent. of the butter sent from here goes to the British market and receives preferential treatment. In that way again the Opposition parties have assisted the dairying industry. At the outbreak of war our butter was selling at reasonable prices in Great Britain. In all those efforts to assist the Australian dairying industry I was very closely associated with the honorable member for Gippsland and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page).
I regard this proposal as unfair and most unsatisfactory. It does not give effect to the Government’s undertaking to carry out the recommendations of the special committee of inquiry.
– It definitely does.
– It does not. The bill proposes to make available only £6,500,000 for twelve months to provide a subsidy on the production of butter, cheese, and dried and condensed milk. The committee recommended (a) the payment on the Commonwealth market of an increase of 3d. per lb. of butter and 2d. per lb. of cheese, and (b) that the export value be increased by 3d. per lb. of butter and 2d. per lb. of cheese, Australian currency.
The committee’s recommendations may be summarized as follows : -
That immediate steps be taken with the object of securing a minimum return to the dairy-farmers of not less that1s. 5½d. per lb., commercial butter, and that to ensure such return -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) are among those who have set out the needs of Australia. Australia needs more than anything else to step up the quantity of butter, cheese, milk - both warm and pasteurized - and manufactured milk products generally. If this be done, and the Government is urging it, the sum of £6,500,000 will be inadequate to pay increases of 3d. per lb. for butter and 2d. for cheese and also to increase the price of milk products, both pasteurized and warm milk, and manufactured milk.
– The honorable member cannot reconcile his statement with that made by Mr. Howey, a member of the committee, who says definitely that the provisions of this measure were those for which the committee asked.
– The Minister cannot get away from the figures. The Government, having undertaken to accept the recommendation of the special committee, should guarantee an increase of 3d. per lb. for butter and 2d. for cheese and a proportional increase of price for milk in all forms. The report recommended certain production targets which, if they were reached, would make the amount of £6,500,000 subsidy quite inadequate. The committee stated that the essential requirement of butter was 195,000 tons and that the target, all that we could hope to achieve, was 162,000 tons, a deficiency of 33,000 tons, or 16.9. per cent. A subsidy of at least £8,000,000 would be needed to provide an increase of 3d. per lb. of butter and 2d. per lb. of cheese. The committee recommended that the limited supply of 162,000 tons be allocated on the following priority basis: -
Steps Necessary for Achievement of Production Targets.
To arrest the decline in production and to restore same to levels more nearly in accord with essential requirements, immediate steps must be taken to -
If we step up production to meet at least the goal the amount of £6,500,000 will be 16.9 per cent. short of the amount needed to pay 3d. per lb. for butter and 2d. per lb. for cheese. The Minister cannot say that he is carrying out this report unless £8,000,000 be made available, because from £6,500,000 it will be impossible to pay the subsidy over the whole range of the commodities. This report was not presented to Parliament, but was made public on the 3rd February, 1943. It was suppressed for seven months.
– How does the honorable gentleman make that out?
– The report was signed in July, 1942, and was not released until February, 1943. That is suppression for seven months. The report was not presented to Parliament. Nobody knew what was in it during that time.
– It was not a report to be presented to Parliament.
– In answers to questions both the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Prime Minister undertook to produce the report, but it was not produced. It was suppressed for seven months.
– It was not suppressed.
– The honorable member knows that no report which recommends that the price of a particular commodity be increased is ever tabled in Parliament until a decision as to the increased price has been reached.
– The right honorable gentleman will remember that a measure providing an annual subsidy of £2,000,000 to the dairying industry was introduced in this Parliament, supposedly on the basis of the recommendations contained in the reports,but honorable members had to debate that measure without the benefit of having the report before them, because the Prime Minister had suppressed it.
– The report was not suppressed.
– Member after member on this side asked that the report be tabled in order that we might have the advantage of having the report before us, so that the problems of the industry might be discussed properly, but the report remained suppressed until February. Because the report was suppressed at the time when the Dairying Industry Assistance Bill was introduced only a payment ofd. per lb. was made and not 3d. per lb. as had been recommended. The industry was accordingly deprived of 3d. per lb. since July, 1942, and the full increase of 3d. per lb. is only made after twelve months bombardment by the Opposition parties. The latest figures available from the Commonwealth Statistician disclose that in 1939 we exported 110,000 tons of butter, compared with the 40,000 tons that we are now exporting. On the 15th September, 1942, the Joint Committee on Rural Industries made the following recommendation : -
In the dairying industry herds are being considerably reduced and in many cases no more cows have been retained than can be handled by the farmer and the help available from his own family. Dairy cows and brood sows are being slaughtered instead of being used to build up food supplies and other dairy herds are being dispersed and sold.
The excessive drain on man-power in the dairying and pig producing industrieshas created a position where it is physically impossible to produce the amount of hand feed necessary to maintain production during certain seasons of the year. The shortage of labour needed to attend to normal maintenance operations on farms is resulting in deterioration in stock and productive capacity.
Meanwhile the industry is in the main being carried on by the older men and women and by juveniles, with a consequence that production is steadily declining. But it is difficult to see how labour is to be induced to leave other activities to return to dairy farming with its long hours and almost full-time demands, coupled with low wages.
But the man-power difficulty will not end with exemption of farm labour from military service. More congenial and better paid employment is obtainable in other industries, and consequently conditions in the dairying industry must be made more attractive to retain on the farm even the sons and daughters of the farmer at an age when they would seek employment elsewhere. The dairying industry is not receiving remuneration commensurate with the service it is rendering the nation, and the committee is unanimously of the opinion that a substantial increase in the price of dairy products is essential.
A year has elapsed since the special committee made its original recommendation as a matter of urgency, and the Government is only now taking action to implement the recommendation, although the committee said that immediate steps should be taken. If a request were made by the trade union “ bosses “ for an immediate increase of the wages of employees in an industry, the desired result would be obtained almost overnight. The increase of wages to the employees in the dairying industry will no doubt be permanent. I have always fought for adequate wages for the employees of all industries, because I favour a good standard of living for all workers; but in respect of the dairying industry, provision has been made for the payment of the subsidy for only one year. A policy should be laid down over a period of years to enable the industry to be rehabilitated. The subsidy is to be granted only as the result of persistent representations over the last two years by the Opposition. Although I welcome the assistance to be given to the industry, the subsidy is not nearly sufficient to give full effect to the recommendation of the special committee or the undertaking of the Government. Although the industry is to bear the cost of a substantial increase of wages to the employees, it is short of almost everything that it needs to make it efficient, and at a time when it is in the most serious plight in its history, it is to receive only a portion of the subsidy recommended by the committee. Dairy-farmers are not only short of man-power, but they also have great difficulty in obtaining requisites such as small motors and necessary parts for their milking and separating machinery.
The clothing of persons engaged in the dairying industry soon wears out, as they have to work 365 days in the year, rain, hail or snow, but their request for special clothing coupons has been brushed aside. The reply that I have received from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) is a complete refusal of the request. I accept this bill as only a partial measure of assistance to the industry and a partial implementation of the recommendation of the special committee. I regret the delay of twelve months that has occurred in carrying out that recommendation. I hope that the Opposition will soon be entrusted with the reins of government, so that we shall be able to provide the industry with the substantial assistance that it requires to place it on a sound economic basis, assuring to the employees an adequate wage and to the producers adequate remuneration over a long term.
– I am amazed to hear so much moaning on the part of the Opposition about this bill. Obviously members of the Opposition are annoyed that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is maintaining the creditable record that he has already achieved in assisting primary producers throughout Australia. Had the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) spoken the truth, he would have adopted a similar attitude to that of Mr. G. C. Howey, president of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, who gave unstinted praise to the Government for its policy towards the dairying industry. I offer special praise to the Minister for the study that he has made of the requirements of the industry, and the practical assistance that he has given to it in a period which is most difficult for all primary producers. There is no more deserving primary industry than that of dairying. Apart from this generous measure the Minister also has to his credit the Dairying Industry Assistance Act 1942, which provided a subsidy of £2,000,000 annually, of which the sum of £1,500,000 was appropriated in respect of the period from the 1st October, 1942, to the 30th June, 1943. The recent decision of the Government was that the subsidy should be increased from £2,000,000 to £6,500,000 per annum, the increase to be made retrospective to the 1st April, 1943. The Government could not give effect to the recommendations of the special committee because they were based on a wage rate which could not be verified. I believe that the Government took the proper course, in which the industry concurred, in suggesting the fixation of a basic wage upon which production costs could be based. The present subsidy has been determined accordingly, and meets with the approval of the leaders of the industry, who have not an eye on the coming Commonwealth elections. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has overlooked the fact that this Parliament has already appropriated £2,150,000 for part payment of the subsidy, pending the appropriation of the full amount of the subsidy in the Estimates for 1943-44. This will have the same effect as if the full amount had been appropriated by the bill.
We have heard much from the honorable member for Moreton about the suppression of the report of the special committee. There was no suppression whatever. The first subsidy was made retrospective to a month before the report was submitted. We have also heard remarks about the disabilities of the industry because of the shortage of labour. Nobody denies that. Other industries are suffering similar disabilities, because of war conditions and depleted man-power. All countries geared to an all-in war effort are having similar experiences. When the Opposition was in power it did nothing to prevent the flow of labour from the primary industries to the munitions factories and to the fighting services. Many of the sons and daughters of primary producers were attracted to the munitions factories in the capital cities, where they were paid high wages and enjoyed more attractive conditions than on the land. Large numbers of them joined the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Australian Navy, and in that way the primary industries suffered a heavy loss of labour. The MenziesFadden Governments had no plan and allowed the drift to go on. The present Government made a complete survey of the man-power problem of Australia, and in May last placed a blanket exemption on all essential primary industries. That was done only a few months after the Labour Government came into power. The trouble was that the previous Governments had done nothing in the matter. They set up departments with high-sounding titles, but no action was taken. They hesitated; they vacillated; they weakened and just drifted along, hoping, “ Micawber-like for something to turn up. Definite action to prevent an unrestricted drift of labour from the primary industries to the munitions factories and the fighting services was taken by the present Government. If honorable members opposite think that they can hoodwink the electors by claiming that they could have eliminated the man-power difficulties they are mistaken. The primary producers know that it remained for the present Government to take definite steps in May, 1942, to put a blanket exemption on all labour in the essential primary industries. This Government released up to 30,000 men in one year from the Army to work in seasonal primary industries; but there is a limit to such releases. The security of Australia must be paramount.
The statement has been made to-night that the rationing of butter was unnecessary and unjustified. The Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) was quite right when he said that the submission by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on the 30th September, 1942, was endorsed by the Advisory War Council on the 15th October, 1942, and contained the following paragraph: -
That full consideration be given to the possibility of cutting down Australian consumption of foodstuffs by rationing or other means in order to save man-power and to enable supplies to the United Kingdom to be maintained.
At that time the shadow of invasion was cast over Australia, and it was a matter of holding the dairy-farms and other primary producing country for our people or sacrificing it to the enemy. The whole subject of rationing had to be considered by the War Cabinet and subsequently ratified by the Advisory War Council. Is the subsidy to the dairying industry too much to ask the people of Australia to pay as their contribution for the security they enjoy as the result of definite steps that had to be taken by the Curtin Government to prevent the drift of man-power from the country to the cities and ensure a 100 per cent, war effort? What the people of Australia have suffered is infinitesimal in comparison with what the people of other countries are enduring as the result of the rationing that has been imposed. In Australia every person receives 8 oz. butter a week as compared with S oz. in Canada and the United States of America, and only 2 oz. in Great Britain.
– The ration has recently been reduced in the United States of America.
– It has been reduced to 4 oz. a week for each person, or one-half of the ration permitted in Australia. Those who have lived at hotels where butter has been handed out at the rate of slightly over 1 oz. a day, realize that that quantity is adequate in all the circumstances and does not involve a heavy sacrifice. For example, the weekly ration of sugar in the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada is 8 oz., in New Zealand 12 oz. and in Australia 16 oz. The Government is able to justify the action that it has taken. United Australia party and United Country party members of the Advisory War Council approved what was done in the light of their knowledge of this global war before the election was announced. Now they are trying to exploit the situation for party political ends.
When travelling by train from Melbourne to Canberra last Monday, I had an opportunity to discuss the subsidy with Mr. G. C. Howey, president of the Australian Dairy Farmers Association, and, with his approval, I made a note at the time of what he said. He told rae that for the first time in its history the dairying industry had been put on a firm basis by the Commonwealth Government. He recalled that in June, 1942, the Curtin Government appointed a special committee to investigate conditions in the industry. The members were - Mr. C. Sheehy, chairman, Mr. B. Richins, Mr. J. Schute, Primary Producers Association of New South Wales, and himself. All those gentlemen are practical dairyfarmers, and they gave full marks to theCommonwealth Government for the assistance that it has granted to the industry. Mr. Howey stated -
This committee made recommendations to the Curtin Government as to what was necessary to stabilize the dairying industry. The Curtin Government accepted those recommendations. Nothing ever done in the history of dairying in Australia can measure up in generosity to what has been done by the present Commonwealth Government.
This was a very great compliment from a man occupying the position of president of the Australian Dairy Farmers Association, a body representative of the dairying industry in which nearly 150,000 dairy-farmers and their employees are engaged.
– Mr. Howey used to be a member of the Country party.
– I believe that he is an honest, capable man, but like many thousands of other very intelligent primary producers, he must, after the credit that he gave to the Labour Government, acknowledge that this Administration has done more for the dairy-farmers than any other government in the last twenty years. The Australian Dairy Farmers Association is the pivotal organization representing dairy-farmers in this country, and it is supported by the Dairy Produce Coastal Committee and the Dairy Produce Equalization Committee. These three associations give a complete federal linkup to the industry. I quote some extracts from a broadcast address that Mr. Howey delivered last Friday night, because they will be of great interest to the thousands of dairy-farmers whom I represent in central Queensland. He said -
Naturally, dairy-farmers are gratified with the amount of subsidy announced by the Prime Minister and which has been provided by the Government to place the industry on a sound economic basis.
An explanation of the relationship between that subsidy and the wages award should clear away any confusion of thought on this matter. Now, let us get down to facts: The subsidy of £0,500,000 is actually based on cost figures submitted to the Prices’ Commissioner by the leaders of the industry. A fact now appreciated by farmers is that in the case presented wages represent about 55 per cent, of the total cost of production. That 55 per cent, is based on a wage of £4 168. per week, also in submitting the case the farmer himself wa’s considered as a labour unit, but in his case we asked for a margin of 25s. per week for managerial responsibility and ability, which we think is little enough.
Farmers may be surprised to know that had it not been for this margin of 25s., which was assumed to be a cost on every dairy farm, the subsidy would have been almost lid. per lb. less.
Concluding his address, he said -
There are two aspects which I wish to emphasize. Firstly, the responsibility of the Government in granting such a large subsidy to see that there was an obligation on the dairy-farmer to pay the wage upon which our case was based, and, secondly, in asking farmers to pay these wages it must be realized that ability to ‘ do so is provided by the subsidy itself.
That is the opinion of the politically disinterested hut fearless president of the Australian Dairy Farmers Association. He gave unstinted praise to the Government. He recognized the generous nature of the assistance which this Government has granted to the industry. He is not alone in giving that recognition. In the Melbourne Herald of the 26th June, Mr. Davis, general secretary of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association is reported to have said -
The industry would be put on the basis it should have been on years ago. It would not be able to pay and receive reasonable wages for the production of butter for consumption within Australia. Butter now produced by family labour would be paid for as if it were produced by hired labour.
The question of the ability to pay wages was questioned by many dairy-farmers, but in the preparation of the case for submission to the Federal Government, due regard was paid to this factor, and it was assumed that £4 lGs. would be the minimum rate paid to male adult labourers.
If the wage had been lowered, considerably less subsidy would have been received, as the wage factor is 55 per cent, of production costs.
I believe that a new era opens out to dairyfarmers.
For the first time in their history they have been considered as other units of labour in industrial concerns. Once any government recognizes the costs of production, plus something additional for managerial ability, I cannot see how any future government dare take it away by the reduction of a subsidy or the lowering of price.
I emphasize that both Mr. Davis and Mr. Howey pointed out that as an overwhelming proportion of dairying is carried on with family labour, only a small number of dairy-farmers will be affected by the award : but every dairyfarmer will benefit from the subsidy.
The subsidy and the award together will ensure that the benefits conferred on the industry will extend to all engaged therein. Another matter of considerable importance is that the subsidy will not be confined to those farmers whose milk is manufactured into butter or cheese, but will also extend to those whose product is used for condensed milk, dried milk other than skim-milk powder, and concentrated milk.
The Leader of the Opposition complained that the subsidy is only temporary. He has no grounds for claiming that it is only temporary. It will not be temporary if this Government is returned to office; but I ask: Is there any permanency anywhere in the world to-day? The right honorable gentleman must have spoken with his tongue in his cheek when he made that complaint. His objection that the subsidy can be determined hy any future government gives no ground for complaint, because any subsidy to any industry in Australia must emanate from, and be subject to alteration by, this Parliament. It would be beyond the power of this Parliament to grant to the dairying industry or any other industry a subsidy which would not be subject to alteration in future.
The Labour Government appointed a committee of experts to report upon conditions in the industry and make suitable recommendations for their improvement. That action demonstrated that this Government believes in consulting those who have an expert knowledge, of, and an interest in, an industry. The committee submitted its recommendations to the Government, and our acceptance of them provides the most generous treatment ever given to the dairying industry during the last twenty years. “When dairy-farmers have an opportunity to express whether they desire the continuance of the subsidy, they will overwhelmingly support Labour party candidates at the general elections, because this Government has played such a prominent part in the consummation of the objective of giving a fair deal to the industry.
– The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has uttered a paean of congratulation of the Labour Government for having introduced this measure, I must remind him of what happened when the previous measure granting a subsidy to dairy-farmers was under consideration. The report of the special committee, about which the Minister spoke so much, had been in the hands of the Government for three months before the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) introduced legislation providing for a miserable subsidy of £2,000,000. All the reasons that make it necessary for assistance to be given to the dairyfarmers at present, existed at that time. The Minister said that the industry approved of the initial subsidy; my reply is that his statement is far from the truth. Dairy-farmers’ organizations throughout Australia protested against not only the amount of the subsidy, but also the manner in which the Government had arranged for its distribution through the Tariff Board. When the House was debating that bill, the Minister was constantly challenged to lay upon the table of the House the report of the special committee. No honorable member questioned the ability of the members of that committee to recommend remedial measures ; hut -I challenged the Minister to prove that the bill contained even one of their recommendations. As a matter of fact, the committee recommended the payment of a subsidy of 3$d. per “lb. of butter fat to the dairyfarmer for the purpose of providing him with a living wage ; but the bill which the Minister introduced provided for the payment of only &d. per lb. Perhaps it is little more than a coincidence that this additional sum was made public on the eve of the Victorian general elections. As to the effect of the announcement on the dairy-farmer, Ministers may judge for themselves if they care to .peruse the figures. I have never been in favour of subsidies. The farmer is entitled to the cost of production plus a reasonable profit, just as is a manufacturer.
– ‘Why did not the United Australia party Government grant assistance to the dairying industry years ago ?
– The necessity to do so did not exist then, .because the farmer had his own organization - the Dairy Produce Board - which was empowered to fix the price that the dairy- farmer should receive for his produce. When honorable members opposite declare that United Australia party governments did nothing for dairy-fanners, I retort that they are not speaking the truth. When a Minister in the Victorian Parliament introduced a bill dealing with dairy products he was able to say that enabling legislation had been passed by the Commonwealth which recognized the Paterson plan. That entirely satisfied the dairy-farmers at that time. It has been urged that immediately after the war of 1914-18 the dairying industry was in a most serious position. , The cost of living had increased by only 8 per cent, when the Fadden Government went out of office, but when the first bill providing for a subsidy to the dairying industry was introduced, the cost of living had increased by 22 per cent. Yet the Minister tried to persuade the House that a subsidy of £2,000,000 was ample to put the industry in a sound position. As only necessitous cases were to get any benefit at all from the subsidy, all that dairyfarmers in Victoria could hope to receive from that legislation was the privilege of paying award rates to their employees while getting no additional price for their butter. As statistics showed that the cost of producing butter in New South Wales and Queensland was 2d. per lb. more than in Victoria, that meant that Victorian dairy-farmers would not share in the subsidy. There was, however, such an uproar from the dairy-farmers of Victoria, and indeed of the whole of Australia, that the Ministry had to retreat from the position it had taken up. We have been told what Mr. Howey thinks of the new subsidy. In view of the legislation which was introduced in October last, the dairyfarmers probably feel that they have every reason to be grateful that an extra £4,500,000 is to be provided to assist the industry. The dairying industry should not be made the football of politics. It should not be possible for the highest bidder to become the purchaser of any industry at election time. The dairyfarmer is just as much entitled to the cost of production, plus a reasonable profit, as is the manufacturer; he is as deserving of consideration as is the man who goes before the Arbitration Court to have his wages fixed.
– This is the first time the dairy-farmer has had such conditions.
– Up .to the time of the fixation of prices it was within the power of the Dairy Produce Board to fix the price of butter in Australia. That was done to the entire satisfaction of the dairy-farmers until the increased cost of living, plus the enormously higher costs of the things which the dairy-farmer had to use, altered conditions.
I shall not say anything more about the subsidy, but I take this opportunity to draw the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to something which will react seriously against the industry unless something be done about it. Recently, a ceiling price was fixed for oats and hay. The producers of these products have not previously sought assistance from the Government. They have ploughed their lonely furrows and have taken the consequences. The ceiling price of oats has been fixed at 2s. lid. per bushel.
– That has nothing whatever to do with this bill.
– It has, because it is important that oats and hay be grown in order to provide a reserve fodder in case of drought. Unless something be done, farmers will not sow oats. The present cost of threshing and bagging oats is equivalent to one-third of the selling price fixed by the Prices Commissioner. It costs 2s. 6d. a bushel to thresh a bag of oats. Allowing another od. a bushel for freight, one bushel in every bag is required to meet those charges alone.
– The Commissioner did not reduce the price of oats.
– That may be, but many farmers had on hand stocks which they could not thresh because the price was too low. The position will become worse unless the Government is prepared to say that a certain area of land must be sown with oats in order to provide reserves and guard against periodical droughts. The position is serious, and I urge the Minister to consult his officers with a view to doing something which will permit these producers to get a fair return. If that be not done, hundreds of acres which should be sown with oats will be used for other purposes. Listening to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde), one would think that the first hill to provide a subsidy to dairymen satisfied them, but I assure the House that it did nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it caused such wide-spread disappointment and indignation that the Government had to retreat from the position it had taken up and accept almost in globo the suggestions made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), when he spoke on the bill in October of last year.
.- I. can understand the annoyance of honorable members opposite when they reflect on what the present Government has done for the primary producers of this country during the short time it has been in office. I shall quote the remarks of the secretary of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association to show that this is the first time that certain factors in connexion with the dairying industry have been taken into consideration. Previous governments hoodwinked the dairy-farmers, but immediately the present Government came into office it took up the cudgels on their behalf. According to the Melbourne Herald of the 6th June, Mr. E. _ E. Davis, secretary of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association, said - “ As the result of the subsidy the industry would bc put on a basis which it should have been on years ago. It would now be able to pay and receive reasonable wages for the production of butter for consumption within Australia. The butter now produced by family labour,” he said “ would be paid for as if it were produced by hired labour. The question of the ability to pay wages was questioned by many dairy-farmers but in the preparation of the case for submission to the Government due regard was paid to this factor and it was assumed that £4 His. would be the minimum rate to be paid male adult labour. If the wage were lower considerably less subsidy would have been received as the wage factor is 55 per cent, of production costs. “ I believe that a new era opens up to dairyfarmers. For the first time in their history they have been considered as other units of labour in industrial concerns. Once any Government recognizes the costs of production, plus something additional for managerial ability, I cannot see how any future Government dare take it away by the reduction of the subsidy or the lowering of the price.”
It will be seen that Mr. Davis, who ought to know, said that this is the first time that dairy-farmers have been considered on the same basis as other units of labour in industrial concerns.
Many charges have been levelled against the Government. Immediately after it assumed office its opponents started the attack. I shall quote now from a report presented to this House by the Joint Committee on Rural Industries on the 17 th September - before the present Government came into office. As charges of bungling in connexion with man-power matters have been made, I point out that the present Government inherited from its predecessor a chaotic state of affairs. Giving evidence before the Rural Industries Committee, one witness said -
At the second time lie was taken away I wrote to the area officer in Cairns, setting out the facts and asking for an exemption for him. I said that otherwise I would have to dispose of my herd. The area officer did not answer my letter. He served a lot of people the same way. I rang up three days before the man was duc to go into camp, and the area officer said to nic, You can carry on until he comes out of camp “… My neighbour, a widow with two children, had a young man milking 70 cows. They had to sell 50 cows the week following the call-up.
It appears to me that men are called up in an indiscriminate fashion, regardless of the effect of the call-up on primary-producing industries. In two instances to my knowledge, men with 130 acres of maize standing ready for the harvest have been unable to harvest it. The unsympathetic and unbusinesslike methods adopted in connexion with the call-up and applications for exemption have made many farmers hostile.
I recommend that there should be a local committee consisting of, say, the Clerk of Petty Sessions, the Land Commissioner, and an officer of the Forestry Department, to deal with these matters. Three public servants like that would act without prejudice to any farmer.
After the Curtin Government came into office it prevented the further call-up of men from primary industries. The evidence on which it acted was known to previous governments. Such was the condition of the dairying industry at the outbreak of war that many dairy-farmers left their holdings and flocked to the cities in order to receive higher wages in munitions factories. That was the state of affairs which the present Government inherited, but it immediately set to work to rectify the mistakes of its predecessor. Today, dairymen throughout Australia appreciate what it has done for the stabilization of their industry. They now accept the principle of a basic wage although previously they had been told that they could not afford to pay award rates. Evidence that most farmers demand that award rates be paid, was presented to the Rural Industries Committee. The Opposition is trying to make political capital by misleading statements regarding the dairying industry, but its efforts will not influence the dairyfarmers of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– As Chairman, I present the sixth interim, report of the Social Security Committee, including the report of the Medical Survey Sub-Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short bill is to rectify a technical defect which a recent judgment of the High Court has shown to exist in section 5 of the National Security Act. The bill, I venture to think, will give to the act the effect which all the governments since the outbreak of war, and both Houses of the Parliament, have assumed that it did have from the beginning.
As honorable members are no doubt aware, the High Court has recently declared that the National Security Act does not, on its true construction, authorize the Governor-General to make regulations vesting federal jurisdiction in State courts. Broadly, the reason was, that the power to invest State courts with federal jurisdiction is given by a special provision in chapter III. of the Constitution, and an act under chapter II. which, like the National Security Act, is expressed in purely general terms, ought not to be interpreted as intending to exercise any of the specific powers given in chapter III. The majority of the justices, however, indicated their view that it would be competent for this Parliament to pass legislation which did authorize the Governor-General to make such regulations. This is what the bill docs.
The case in which the matter recently came under review was Peacock v. The Newtown Marrickville and General Cooperative Building Society No. 4 Limited of Sydney. The High Court was of opinion that the adjustment of contracts in the circumstances provided for by the regulations was within the defence power of the Commonwealth, but ‘that the National Security Act, as I have said, does not authorize the making of a regulation investing State courts with federal jurisdiction; and accordingly that the regulations were invalid because they purported to do so.
I do not think I need emphasize the importance of permitting the GovernorGeneral to invest State courts with federal jurisdiction in the many new matters which may arise under national security regulations. The machinery for carrying out a policy is often inseparable from the policy itself. Till the High Court’s recent decision, nobody realized that the Governor-General lacked power in this regard. I should add that in consequence of the High Court’s judgment there arc certain other powers which the Governor-General has hitherto been assumed to possess, but which he will not bo able to exercise unless specially authorized. I mention in particular the conferring of original jurisdiction on the High Court in matters arising under the regulations, and the definition of the jurisdiction of federal courts other than Iiic High Court. The bill makes provision for vesting these powers also. Honorable members will notice, however, that no power is given to the GovernorGeneral to make regulations creating new federal courts.
As a result of the decision in Peacock’s case, doubt has been thrown on the validity of several other regulations made under the National Security Act. Under thom, moreover, judgments, decisions, orders, determinations, directions and other acts and things have been given, made or done by the courts specified in the regulations. These decisions, orders and the like are in many cases now probably unenforceable^ and the protection which was given by. the regulations is now probably nullified..-.
Some of the regulations affected by the decision in Peacock’s case, are of long standing, having been promulgated by the predecessors of this Government; others have been made under the prese’nt Ministry. Thus the main provisions of the National Security (“War Service Moratorium) Regulations were promulgated by the Menzies Government on. the- 21st March, 1941. Other regulations made by previous governments, include the National Security (Debtors’’’ Relief). Regulations which embody the* same principle as that embodied in. the. Contracts Adjustment Regulations,; and the National Security (Supply of Goods) Regulations, originally made in ‘. 1939, under which State courts may.’be invoked in determining compensation.,.
The principal regulations made by the present Government, “which, are; or –may be affected by the decision-, of the.High- Court in Peacock’s case, are the Contracts Adjustment Regulations themselves and .certain provisions of the National. Security (Coal Control) Regulations. - .
The National, Security (Landlord arid Tenant) Regulations’ frere recently held invalid. This, however, was on a different point- namely, that judicial powers were conferred on bodies that were not courts strictly so-called. These regulations were at.on.ee amended,’ so as to leave jurisdiction in eviction proceedings to courts of competent jurisdiction. So far as Slate courts are concerned, federal jurisdiction has already been given in this class of matter by section 89.:of the Judiciary Act, and no further legislation is necessary to make the existing landlord and tenant regulations effective. These regulations, therefore, do not- depend on the present bill.
Prom what ‘J. have already said, honorable members’ “will appreciate that, if action be not’ taken to remove Ih’e difficulties created by the decision of the High Court in Peacock’s case, grave hardship is likely to bc suffered by .many -people:, and many- difficulties of- an - economic; or industrial character arb likely to be created. It is essential,: therefore,- that as far as practicable this Parliament should take immediate steps to restore the position as it was understood to be before the decision.
As I have said, three separate powers are specified in clause 3. This is because in the existing regulations there are provisions conferring original jurisdiction on the High Court, and provisions defining the jurisdiction of some federal court, as well as provisions investing State courts with federal jurisdiction. Peacock’s case concerned only the third of these, but the same principle must apply to the other matters too. For that reason it is necessary that provision should be made for all three.
The bill proposes to validate the regulations already made, and to give them for the future the same effect as if the measure now under consideration had been in force when they were made. It also proposes to validate- judgments, decisions, orders and so forth, given by virtue of the powers which were thought to exist under those regulations.
Honorable members will see that, in substance, this measure is not one by which the Government seeks new powers, but is merely one to ensure the existence of those powers which, having regard to the decisions of the High Court during
I he last war, the Governments of this country considered were amply given by the National Security Act 1939-1940. The regulations that are now ineffective have received the approbation of both sides of the House. I therefore ask honorable members to vote for the bill, which is only rendered necessary because of the rigid nature of our Constitution.
I should like the House to know that before initiating this legislation, I dis-. cussed the matter in some detail with the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), and that the present proposal has his full concurrence.
The case of Peacock v. The Newtown Marrickville and’ General Co-operative Building Society No. 4 Limited of. Sydney, which arose recently, concerned a transaction involving the payment of interest. Peacock argued that the rate of interest demanded by the company was too high. Pleading hardship due to conditions arising out of the war, he applied to the jurisdiction prescribed under these regulations to have the rate of interest reduced.
– The contract- was entered into before the war.
– Yes. Before the case was decided in the lower court, the company appealed to the High Court on the ground that Peacock could not take such action under regulations passed under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. The High Court held that the Parliament could make regulations under its defence powers to authorize the Governor-General to make such regulations, and to that degree it ruled against the appellant; but, at the same time, it held that, under the Constitution, the Parliament could not, under the National Security Act, authorize the Governor-General to make such regulations. Therefore, the decision of the High Court does not affect the merits of this particular case in any way. It merely defines the course which the Commonwealth, according to the Constitution, must follow in order to implement its powers in this direction. Thus, !his legislation does not affect the rights of either party in the case under review, or the original intention of Parliament.
– In view of the lucid explanation of the provisions of the bill which has just been given by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), the Opposition raises no objection to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short amendment of the law relating to war service estates. The purpose of the amendment is to clear up two doubts that have arisen in regard to the administration of the act of 1942. Section 7 provides for the distribution, by an authorized service authority, of the war service estate of a deceased member of the Forces to the persons set out in that section. The persons to whom the estate may be distributed include the personal representative of the deceased member, any person beneficially entitled to the estate, a public trustee or a person specified by the appropriate Minister. It has been pointed out, that, as at present framed, section 7 does not permit of the estate being divided between these persons, but that the authorized service authority must select one of such persons, or one class of such - persons, to whom the whole estate will be paid. As- a result of this ruling, difficulty is being experienced in settling the distribution of the estates of some members of the Forces. As there may be many cases in which it might be proper to distribute the estate in different proportions to one or more of the relatives of the deceased, it seems desirable that any doubts as to the power to effect proportional distribution should be removed. The amendments of section 7 of the principal act proposed in clause 3 of the bill make such alterations in the act as will allow of estates being proportionately distributed to the persons set out in the act. Honorable members will note in that clause the changes proposed in section 7, which sets out the number of persons so authorized to whom the deceased estate of a member of the forces may be distributed, but, according to the interpretation given by the SolicitorGeneral, the act as it now stands specifies that once a decision has been made by the authority it must apply specifically to one of those persons or categories of persons. It might happen, however, in an estate, that the authority desires to make a distribution to more than one of those set out in section 7, and if he considers that it should be made wider, he should be allowed to act accordingly, and not be restricted as section 7 now provides. The bill makes the existing act more elastic by allowing for wider distribution, if the authority so desires.
– The Opposition has no objection to the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 30th June (vide page 617), on motions by Mr. Chifley-
SlTPri.EXU5NT.AKY ESTIMATES 194] -42.
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty….. (vide page 616).
.- I wish to do something that I thought I might have had an opportunity of doing earlier. I desire to refer to the decision of the Government to appoint a royal commission to investigate certain statements made in this House. I submit that the appointment of royal commissions by the executive to investigate statements made in the House, and the grounds of them, is a practical invasion of the privileges of the members of the House. A royal commission involves the appointment by the executive of somebody to make the inquiry. This is an inquiry into the grounds upon which a member of this House, speaking in this House, made a statement. I submit that that is an infraction of one of the cherished privileges of every British legislature. The Bill of Rights lays it down in article 9 -
That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.
This House itself has ample power to deal with members who make statements which are untrue or offensive. That power has extended in certain cases to imprisonment. At any rate, the power exists, and it was asserted by the House of Commons on one occasion that freedom of speech in Parliament should not be punished except by the censure of the House itself. The privilege set up in article 9 of the Bill of Rights is one of the privileges of members of this House.
– This statement was not made only in the House.
– No; the statement questioned was one made to the House. The honorable member probably was not here and does not know that this question arises out of a statement made by the Minister of State for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) in the House of Representatives on the 22nd June, 1943, in the course of which he said -
I am most reliably informed that one important report is now missing from the official files.
A royal commission, consisting of a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, was appointed by the Executive to inquire into the Minister’s grounds for making that statement. I revert now to the Constitution. The effect of section 49 of our Constitution is to give to members of this House the same powers, privileges and immunities as are enjoyed by members of the Commons House of Parliament. One of the privileges enjoyed by members of the Commons House of Parliament is not to have their freedom of speech in Parliament questioned or impeached in any place out of Parliament. Consequently, every member of the House has the immunity granted to the members of the House of Commons by article 9 of the Bill of Rights. I deny that the Executive has any right to call upon any member of this House to give his reasons for making a speech, or to give authority for the statements which he made. The only body which has a right constitutionally to examine that is this House itself. I regard this as a very dangerous infraction of the rights of Parliament. Before I leave that subject, I should like to say that the Minister for Labour and National Service asked that certain other matters should be examined by the royal commission. I submit that if it is proper to appoint a royal commission to examine into the accuracyor the ground of the statements that the Minister for Labour and National Service made, it may be contended with justice that the Minister has the right to have these other matters investigated. The questions which he asked the Prime Minister to insert in the terms of reference of the royal commission included the following:
Upon the charges made by the Minister in the same speech and in his statement made in the House of Representatives on the 24th June, 1943, in respect of the following questions: -
Were such charges or any of them substantially true?
Was the Minister, in making these charges, speaking in good faith and in the belief that he was performing his duty to the public?
I cannot see how anybody can be hurt by an inquiry into those matters. As the Minister very reasonably said the other day, those are the things upon which people desire information. What people are anxious to know is: Are the statements made by the Minister for Labour and National Service, and adopted by other Ministers and by the Prime Minister himself - for they received the confirmation of the Prime Minister’s own words at the Sydney conference - in fact true? The Prime Minister at the Labour Conference in Sydney spoke of the defeatist plans which the previous Cabinet had, and it does seem to me that by that phrase he adopted in a few general words what the Minister for Labour and National Service and other Ministers had said in greater detail. That the whole matter is not to be inquired into, is not fair to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I protest against the use by the Executive of this means of inquiring into the accuracy of a statement made in Parliament, and the grounds upon which it has been made. 1 am not concerned with whether or not the statements of the Minister are accurate, or with what the royal commission has to determine. My point is, that this is an. invasion of the privileges of members of Parliament. There have been two occasions upon which inquiries of this nature have been authorized by State executives, notably the occasion in Perth in 1937. The member then concerned, when questioned, took the ground that the asking of such questions as were proposed to be put to him was an invasion of the privilege conferred upon him by article 9 of the Bill of Rights. I hope that the House will not consent to a repetition of this proceeding, which I regard as an infraction of the privileges of honorable members.
.- I take this opportunity to refer to certain of the remarks that were made this afternoon by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), as chairman of the Rationing Commission. I regret that I could not reply to them earlier, because I had not heard the first portion of his speech. He has been kind enough to give to me a record of his remarks. As they implied that they expressed the considered opinion of the commission, I desire to make clear that they were not submitted to me beforehand, although I understand that they were submitted to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane). Because I do not agree with certain portions of them, I want to make my position clear.
The honorable member for Henty stated that the president of the New South Wales Retail Traders Association, Sir Sydney Snow, had made a virulent attack on the commission in connexion with the administration of lay-bys as they were affected under recent rulings of the commission. The honorable gentleman said that the complaints which had been made in connexion with lay-by control had come from only a small section of the trade, which was represented by Sir Sydney Snow in Sydney, and Mr. Lampe, of Mantons Limited in Melbourne. I do not agree that those protests came from only a small section of the trade. The two gentlemen named are the presidents of the Retail Traders Associations in New South Wales and Victoria respectively; consequently, they represent a very large section of the retail trade, and speak on behalf of a large number of people. I consider, too, that the protests have not been confined to those two gentlemen. So far as I am aware, the protests in regard to the ruling originally given in connexion with lay-by transactions were widespread, and came not only from those who are interested in the trade, but also from the community at large. It was on this account, and upon reconsideration of all the relevant facts, that I reached the honest opinion that a mistake had been made by the commission, and that it must be corrected immediately. I have always held the view that the Rationing Commission or any other body of a similar character, or, for that matter, any individual, cannot be regarded as infallible. Every one is liable to make mistakes. It is in the interests of the people whom we represent, and of the public at large, that when there is realization of a mistake having been made, particularly one which affects a large number of people, steps should immediately be taken to have the matter rectified. I make no apology for taking that stand. I have no hesitation in affirming that there is no justification whatever for believing that because certain rules and regulations have been gazetted and have become law they must necessarily be right, and there must be no alteration of them. When a government brings down a bill which, in its wisdom, it regards as the best that can be introduced, amendments may be moved to it and may be either accepted or rejected. There is nothing wrong with such action. I believe that I am not misquoting the honorable member for Henty when I say that he has spoken as though with the authority of the entire commission ; because he has described as virulent the attack which he alleged had been made by Sir Sydney Snow, and added, “ In fairness to other traders who have helped the commission, I think that I am justified in stating the position as it is known to the commission “. As a member of the commission, I do not support that statement. In my view, the retail traders’ associations throughout Australia have given magnificent support to the Rationing Commission. They have been untiring in their efforts to assist the commission in its very difficult a,nd exacting task, and have always been willing, when so requested, to give to it the value of their experienced opinion on important matters. Although their opinions have not always been accepted, I believe that they have been offered honestly and sincerely. I disagree with the statement of the honorable member for Henty that, in his opinion, Sir Sydney Snow has been actuated by party political motives and Mr. Lampe, of Mantons Limited, by personal motives. I do not believe that they have been. I do not deny the right of the honorable mem! ber for Henty to express whatever views he may hold; but I, too, am entitled to make my position clear.
I express appreciation of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) having offered me a seat on the Rationing Commission to do an essential war job without remuneration. The decision of the right honorable gentleman to form a commission of parliamentarians as an administrative, corporate body has proved a worthwhile venture. It has been a venture, because there was no precedent for it in this country, nor, I understand, in Great Britain or the United States of America. The commission, in effect, administers a department independently of the Minister, and is composed entirely of parliamentarians. This departure from precedent has proved that it can work both efficiently and effectively.
Publicity has recently been given to certain differences that have arisen between the chairman of the Rationing Commission and myself. That they should have arisen, is unfortunate. Actually, they were due to unforeseen circumstances. It is well known that the third member of the commission, Senator Armstrong, with whom I have been able to work on the friendliest terms, has been abroad as a member of a parliamentary delegation. His position on the commission was not filled during his absence; consequently, when a difference arose which we could not resolve between the chairman and myself there was no alternative to submission of the matter to the Minister for Trade and Customs, under whose authority the commission functions. That has been done, and decisions have been made. Those decisions have not been exactly in accordance with what I believe to be right; nevertheless, being majority decisions I have accepted them. I refer particularly to the difference of opinion in regard to lay-bys. The reason for the stand that I took was, that I considered a mistake had been made and that a grave injustice had been done to a large body of people; the lay-by purchaser had been placed at a distinct disadvantage compared with the cash purchaser, the accounts purchaser and the cash-order purchaser. Because I believed that this mistake had been made, and a grave injustice done, I was not prepared to allow it to go on. I express my appreciation to members of the House, particularly to those of my own party, for their very tolerant attitude towards the matter of rationing. It has been a difficult and an exacting job, with considerable political repercussions.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means founded on resolutions of Supply reported and adopted.
That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Makin do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 10J28 to 11.5 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Dairying Industry Assistance Bill 1943. National Security Bill 1943. War Service Estates Bill 1943. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1941-42.
The following bill was returned from the Senate without requests : -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1941-42.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
On the carrying of this motion, honorable gentlemen will be able to proceed about some business which it is necessary to complete before any of them will be able to come back to this chamber. I have only to say that I wish every member of the Parliament good health, and that we shall be glad to welcome the survivors back in the spirit that victory is always pleasant. I am sure that we shall also spare a pang for those who will not return. We never know who they may be. It is quite conceivable that this may be the last occasion on which I shall speak from this place; on the other hand, if the people so decide, I may find myself hero again. But whatever be the result of the election, I desire to place on record my indebtedness to the House for its invariable consideration and helpfulness in a period of great difficulty for any government, and most certainly one which was rendered even more so by the way in which the parties in this chamber have been so approximately equal in numbers. It would have been impossible for any Prime Minister to accomplish the work that has been done for Australia in the last twenty months without that encouragement and support which was indispensable to the performance of his work, and also to his continuance in office. I pay a tribute to the manner in which my colleagues have helped me. In this connexion, I mention particularly the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) for his invariable readiness to step in when my feet flagged along the road. I should like also to say that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) has always treated me with great consideration, and, I would add, with immeasurable generosity. Whilst in no way abating the performance of his own duties as Leader of the Opposition, he has extended to me a friendship which has been a source of great encouragement to me, and he has helped me over many difficulties. I know that that support has been given because of his conscientious conception of the importance of Parliament and of its significance to this nation, particularly when the nation is striving to preserve its freedom and to maintain its institutions of government. ‘Notwithstanding anything that may have been said anywhere in this chamber during the heat of debate, I assure every honorable member of my regard for him personally. Earlier to-day, I expressed regret that as the result of ill health, two members had decided not to seek re-election. I do hope that the strains incidental to this period will at least be eased so that the health of honorable gentlemen may be maintained.
To you, Mr. Speaker, and to your predecessor, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), I pay tribute for the unfailing impartiality which has characterized the conduct of the Chair. The position of Speaker of the House of Representatives is a high office, and I am sure that both you yourself and your predecessor have won the regard and esteem of members, whether sitting on your right or on your left. You, sir, know now, us I have known for a long time, how dependent all of us are upon the Clerk and the Clerk Assistant in the performance of our work in this chamber. I pay a tribute to Mr. Green and Mr. Tregear for the help which I am sure has been granted as freely to every private member as it has been given to me. The officers of the House do a work of which the public knows little, but which honorable members esteem highly. We thank them for their conscientious and faithful service.
Hansard has had to work many hours, and, I have reason to believe, very fast on occasions. We have great satisfaction in the absolute reliability and correctness of the work that Hansard does, and I extend to Mr. Romans and his colleagues our thanks for the services that they have rendered.
The Library is a fortification to every honorable gentleman, and I know that in the preparation of constructive speeches, as well as speeches which are not quite of that kind, the resources of the Library are exploited to the full by members of this chamber. All of us are indebted to Mr. Binns and his assistants for their unfailing courtesy and, indeed, for their zeal in helping every member to get the kind of material that he thinks will be most helpful to him.
It would be ungenerous on my part not to mention also the staffs who work in the dining-room and kitchen, as well as the messengers throughout the building, for the way in which they have performed their duties.
If I may say so - and this is not an electioneering point - I have welcomed the advent of young ladies in the diningroom. It has, I am sure, been a decided improvement to the amenities of this building.
The only thing that remains now for me to do is to carry out the intimation that Iconveyed to the House last week, and to say that it is my prayer that the people of this country will judge, not only patriotically, as I am sure they will,but also wisely, and that whatever be the choice they make, a government will be returned sufficiently strong to bo able to administer the affairs of this country with decision, for in the period ahead the struggle to maintain Australia as a free country, able to play its part, in collaboration with other great nations, in the preservation of freedom, will be continued until such time as victory has been made complete. “We have a great deal for which to be thankful ; but a great task still lies before us. That task will require all our resources. It may be that we shall redirect some of our activities. War, of course, is not static. Its characteristics change from month to month, and, sometimes, from day to day; and the dictates of war - the march of events - will impose changes upon the policies of this country. Nothing is final about what has been done. Reassessments must be made frequently, and those reassessments will require the support of the Australian people in order that they may be of the greatest value to our fighting forces. I pray that victory will come to us speedily; but, I am confident that however long the struggle may be, the fortitude and strength of this nation will be maintained at the highest standard in order that victory, ultimately, will be achieved.
– I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in conveying the thanks and appreciation of honorable members to officers of the House, and members of the various staffs of Parliament. I thank the Prime Minister for the sentiments that he has expressed regarding myself. I also convey my thanks to him and his Ministers, and their private secretaries, for the con sideration and attention which they have invariably given to me in my dealings with them. I thank my own colleagues for their support. He would be a very biased person, indeed, who refused to recognize that during the past twenty months the responsibility of the Prime Minister has been most onerous and exacting. The position of the Parliament has been unsatisfactory ever since it was elected, and for that fact the electors themselves are entirely responsible. The relative numerical strength of the parties composing the Parliament has indeed made it difficult for the Parliament to work satisfactorily. I hope, therefore, that in the near future the electors will give a definite mandate to a government that will have sufficient numerical strength to carry out the mandate, in the interests of Australia in the circumstances in which we find ourselves to-day. Naturally, as Leader of the Opposition, I do not hope that all honorable members opposite will be returned. Indeed, I hope that the strength of the Government party will be reduced; and I leave it to honorable members opposite themselves to decide which of their number shall fall by the wayside. However, the responsibility rests upon each member of this Parliament to awaken the minds of the Australian people to a realization of the necessity for those degrees of patriotism, determination and sacrifice which are essential if wo are to achieve speedy victory and lasting peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Forbes, New South Wales,
Forrest, Western Australia.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Lake Boga, Victoria.
Mulwala, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Taking possession of land, &c. (96).
Use of land (9).
National Security (Industrial Peace) Regulations - Dairying Industry Award, 1943.
House adjourned at 11.19 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
k asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n-Hughes asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
When will the reprinting of the new electoral rolls for the country divisions in South Australia be completed, and the new rolls issued?
– The reprinting of the rolls for the country divisions of South Australia has been completed, and the new rolls issued.
Commonwealth of Australia to wit.
By His Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430701_reps_16_175/>.