17th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The Honorable Frank BRENNAN made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Batman, Victoria.
– I regret to inform honorable members of the death on the 23rd October last, of Sir George Fairbairn, formerly a member of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, and also of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and Agent-General for that State.
The deceased gentleman was elected to the Legislative Assembly, Victoria, for Toorak at a by-election in October, 1903, and resigned this seat to stand at the general election in 1906 for the Division of Fawkner in the House of Representatives. He gained the seat, and was re-elected at the general election in 1910, but was defeated at the general election in 1913. Elected to the Senate for the State of Victoria at the general election in 1917, he was from September, 1917, to May, 1918, a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. He did not submit himself for re-election at the general election in 1922.
Sir George Fairbairn was appointed by the Government of Victoria as AgentGeneral for that State in London in August, 1924, and held that post until June, 1927. He was created a Knight Bachelor in 1926.
In addition to the many duties which he was called upon to perform in the course of a long and honorable public career, the deceased gentleman was actively associated with enterprises, notably in the pastoral and meat industries, which have helped to develop and enrich this country, and waa also closely connected with business and sporting interests. The outstanding services which he rendered over so wide a field of endeavour marked him out as a great Australian. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of Sir George Fairbairn, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Fawkner, and of the Senate, also of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and Agent-General in London, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders it deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On .behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion. Sir George Fairbairn lived to a very ripe age, and he was in the truest sense, a “grand old man”. He had, of course, for many years, been actively associated with politics and the work of Parliament ; and subsequently, for many years, maintained his interest in public affairs on the side of political organization. His is a name which, as this House knows, is greatly honoured in Australia, as in more recent years we have had special occasion to remember. Sir George Fairbairn was a man, I always thought, of great simplicity of character and great generosity of mind, and devoted himself for many years to work in this country which was in the truest sense constructive. He had a vast knowledge of many things, but particularly of rural industry, and for that will be remembered. But all those who had associated with him from time to time - I speak as one of a much later political generation than his - will constantly think of him as essentially a just and an upright man, and - as the Prime Minister has truly said - a great and notable Australian.
– I associate the Australian Country party with the sentiments that have been expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), and with the message of sympathy it is proposed to send to those who are left to mourn the loss of Sir George Fairbairn.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– I am sorry to have to inform honorable members of the passing, on the 25th November, 1943, of Mr. Arthur Rae, a former .senator and member of the State Parliament of New South Wales. The deceased gentleman had a somewhat varied parliamentary career, extending over g very long period. Following several years of activity as an organizer of the Shearers Union, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, New South Wales, for the Murrumbidgee, in June, 1S91. He was defeated in July, 1894, and subsequently transferred his political activities to the federal sphere, being elected to the Senate for New South Wales at the general election in 1910. At the general election which followed the double dissolution of Parliament in 1914, he was defeated. Again elected -to the Senate at the general election in 1928, he retired in June, 1935, following his defeat at the general election in 1934. During his earlier period of service as a senator, he was a member of the select committee on the case of H. Chinn, and of the Select Committee on the Fitzroy Dock, both in 1913. Subsequently, he was a member of the Select Committee on the Standing Committee System in 1929-30.
It may truly be said that the late Arthur Rae was a pioneer of the Australian Labour party. He was fearless and undaunted in expressing his views, whether by means of the spoken or the written word. Particularly was he active as an advocate for better working and living conditions. Commencing as a young man, he did much throughout a long life to improve the lot of the Australian worker. For that, his name will be revered. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Arthur Rae, a former senator for the State of New South Wales and member of the Legislative Assembly, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and associate the members of the United Australia party with .the Prime
Minister in expressing regret at the death of ex-Senator Rae and in extending sincere sympathy with his family in their bereavement.
I knew Arthur Rae very well. For many years I was closely associated with him in the early stages of the Labour movement, and later as a fellow member in this Parliament. He was a man of outstanding character and, above all else, a fighter for the under-dog, having been one of the foremost pioneers of the industrial and political wings of the Labour movement. He fought for Labour when to be a unionist was to be an Ishmaelite an outcast, a marked man against whom all the forces of wealth and privilege were relentlessly directed. To be a unionist in those far-off days, a man needed great courage, an abiding faith, and fanatical zeal. No man had those qualities in greater measure than had Arthur Rae. His was a rugged personality. Animated by a great and an all-embracing purpose, he fought for the workers through the years when, denied an effective voice in making the laws which shaped their destiny, every attempt by industrial organization to secure- decent labour conditions was ruthlessly repressed. He was one of the most active of the organizers for the powerful union which to-day is known as the Australian Workers Union. There were then no arbitration courts to which the workers could appeal for economic justice. When Arthur Rae held aloft the banner of the union, the strike was the only means of redress at the workers’ disposal. The lot of an. organizer in those days was an unenviable one. He was hunted off stations, harried by police, and rebuffed by many of the workers themselves. A marked man, Arthur Rae carried on. Nothing daunted him. In the great shearers’1 strike of 1889, and the still greater industrial upheaval of 1890, he was one of the foremost leaders of the workers. When, in 1891, Labour, defeated in the industrial conflict, sought redress by political action, Arthur Rae was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and played a prominent part in forcing recognition of the rights of Labour upon a reluctant legislature.
Defeated in the 1894 election for the State Assembly, he was elected to the Senate in 1910, and took an active part in giving legislative effect to many of the planks of the Labour party. In his public career he was ceaselessly active; he never spared himself and was throughout life a battler. Fortune dealt him some rude buffets, but his spirit rose triumphant over all. To the end he took the keenest .interest in public affairs, and never ceased to champion the interests of the people, to whose advancement he had devoted- himself so unselfishly throughout his long life. 1 entertained for him a warm, personal regard and deeply regret his death. I extend to his family my most sincere sympathy.
– I endorse the remarks that have been made regarding the death of ex-Senator Arthur Rae.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– It is my sad duty to inform honorable members of the death at Hobart on the 13th December, 1943, of Mr. Charles William Grant, a former senator. Like many other honorable senators and members of the Federal Parliament, the late Mr. Grant commenced his parliamentary career in the State legislature, having been elected to the House of Assembly, Tasmania, for Denison, at the general election in 1922. He was first elected to the Senate for Tasmania, under clause 15 of the Constitution, at a joint sitting of both Houses of the State Parliament in July, 1925, vice Mr. G. M. Foster, who had resigned. At the subsequent general election in 1925, he was defeated. He was then1 re-elected to the House of Assembly for Denison at the State general elections in 1928 and 1931. He was an Honorary Minister in the Tasmani’an Government from the 15 th June, 1928, to the 2nd March, 1932, when he was again elected to the Senate by the Parliament of Tasmania to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator J. E. Ogden. Re-elected at the general election in 1934, he retired at the expiration of his term on the 30th June, 1941. He was temporary chairman of committees from the 26th September, 1935, until the 14th March, 1940. The late senator was a vigorous champion of the State of Tasmania, and did much valuable work both in and out of Parliament that made for the progress and development of the State. He was enabled, by his clear grasp of financial questions, to make a very real contribution to the debates in this Parliament. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of Mr. Charles William Grant, a former senator for the State of Tasmania and member of the House of Assembly, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion, and associate the Opposition with it. We of the Opposition recall Charles Grant as a good colleague on our side of politics, and as a man who devoted himself for many years to serving the interests of the people. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has said, he was an outstandingly successful business man in Tasmania, one of the too few outstandingly successful business men who have placed their experience at the disposal of our Parliament. In the Senate he served his country with great zeal and success. He was the representative in this Parliament of what is much the smallest State of the Commonwealth, but it is a State which has made a great contribution to the public life of the country. Charles Grant made his own contribution to such service, and we honour his memory for it.
– Members of the Country party sympathetically associate themselves with the sentiments which have been expressed regarding the death of ex-Senator Grant.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– It is with sincere regret that I refer to the death of the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan, LL.D., K.C., which occurred on the 3rd January, 1944. This sad event removed from a devoted family, as well as from legal and other circles in which he moved, a man who combined in his personality the qualities of keen studentship with a kindly and charitable nature. The late Dr. Brennan was a member of the Twelfth and successive Commonwealth Parliaments up to, and including, the Fifteenth, having been elected to the Senate for Victoria under clause 15 of the Constitution at a joint sitting of both Houses of the Parliament of Victoria, on the 12th May, 1931, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator H. E. Elliott. He we re-elected at the general election later that year. He was Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce from the 12th October, 1934, to the 29th November, 1937, and assisting the Minister for Industry from the 9th November, 1934, to the 29 th November, 1937. During the absence in London of the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies, he acted as Attorney-General and Minister for Industry from February to September, 1935, and again from February to August, 1936. At the general election in 1937, he was defeated but held his seat, under the Constitution, until the 30th June, 1938. All honorable members will, I am sure, join with me in expressing to our colleague, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) our very sincere sympathy in the loss of his brother. Those of us who knew Dr. Brennan personally can testify to his worth as a man, and the nation as a whole Ls the poorer for his passing. As a tribute to his service to the Commonwealth, the late Dr. Brennan was accorded a State funeral. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan, LL.D:, K.C., a former senator for the State of Victoria and honorary. Minister of the Crown, places on record ite appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– In a sense, very few words are needed from me to support this motion, because Tom Brennan, as we ali thought of him, was extremely well known in both Houses of this Parliament to both senators and honorable members. He was very well known in the State of Victoria. He was very well known to his fellow members of the Victorian Bar, of whom I am one. He was at an earlier stage, very well known in the world of journalism. I venture to say that in each department of life in which he moved he earned, not only the respect of men, but also their permanent affection. He was a man who in reality possessed the most extraordinarily lovable qualities. I do not think that I ever heard him say a harsh word about anybody. He was certainly a man whose heart was entirely free of bitterness. Yet, all through his life, and long before he came into Parliament, he was a man of strong political views, and he worked unceasingly to promote the acceptance of those views by the people. In the courts of Victoria, particularly the criminal courts, he practised with very great success as an advocate, an advocate who combined learning with remarkable dignity and conspicuous1 honesty. He brought those qualities with him into the wider sphere of public life. I think that there is no man who ever encountered him in Parliament, whether he agreed or disagreed with him, who would not have said, “ “Well, there goes a great gentleman who will always live up to the highesttraditions of whatever it is that he is pursuing”. That can be said with sincerity and said universally about Tom Brennan. He bore a name very well known in the politics and public life of Australia. I can pay him no greater compliment than to say that he added to the reputation of that name and that his was not the least contribution to its permanent remembrance in Australian affairs.
– On behalf of the Australian Country party, I express regret at the passing of the Honorable Thomas Brennan and record our sympathy with those left to mourn his loss, particularly the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan).
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– It is my sad duty to record the death of yet another former senator, the Honorable Patrick Joseph Lynch, who passed away at Perth, on the loth January, 1944. The former senator was a well known figure in the political life of this country, particularly in Western Australia which State he represented continuously in the Federal Parliament for a period of 32 years. He served first in the State Parliament, representing Mount Leonora in the Legislative Assembly from June, 1904, until November, 1906, when he resigned. From June to August, 1905, he was State Minister for Public Works. Elected to the Senate at the general elections in 1906 he was re-elected at the successive general elections up to and including 1931. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry, 1912-14; Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Works, 1914-16; first Chairman of the River Murray Waters Commission, 1916; Minister for Works and Railways from the 14th November, 1916, to the 17th February, 1917 ; member of the Joint Committee on Public Works from July, 1923. to June, 1926; member of the Select Committee on the Standing Committee .System, 1929-30; and President of the Senate from the 31st August, 1932, to the 30th June, 1938. He was defeated at the general election in 1937, retaining his seat under the Constitution, until the 30th June, 193S.
The deceased gentleman, himself a picturesque figure, had a varied and romantic career both on land and sea prior to entering politics, and engaging in the steady and less eventful work of farming. His early roving doubtless served to equip him with a knowledge of, and sympathy with, his fellows which was later exemplified in his public life. His long parliamentary service was crowned by his occupancy of the position of President of the Senate. As a tribute to his outstanding public services, the late honorable gentleman was accorded a State funeral. I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of the Honorable Patrick Joseph Lynch, » former senator for the State of Western Australia, Minister of the Crown and President of the Senate, also a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion and associate the members of the Opposition with the expressions of regret at the death of the Honorable Patrick Joseph Lynch, a former President of the Senate. I knew him very well. He was my colleague in the Parliament and we served together in the same ministry. He was a man of fine character and great ability. His powers of speech were outstanding; on occasions he rose to heights of supreme eloquence. He was a most capable administrator and, as a colleague in Cabinet, was at once helpful with constructive criticism and loyal to his colleagues. He was a firm friend, a man to whom one could turn with confidence for advice and aid. He gave to his country the best that was in him. I entertained for him a high regard which, as the years went on, deepened into warm affection. I sincerely regret his death and extend to his widow and family my sincere sympathy.
– The Country party associates itself with the expressions of regret at the passing of the Tate Honorable Patrick Joseph Lynch, and the message of sympathy to the bereaved relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Appointment of the Duke of
– I desire to inform honorable members of the receipt, on the 12th November, 1943, of a message from the Private Secretary to the King announcing that the King, on the recommendation of His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia, had been graciously pleased to approve the appointment of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester as Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia in succession to Lord Gowrie, whose term of office has been further extended for six months as from the 22nd January, 1944. Australians will, I am sure, be deeply appreciative of His Majesty’s action in appointing a member of the Royal Family to be Governor-General of Australia. All in this country will look forward with affectionate and loyal interest to the arrival again in Australia of His Royal Highness.
I wish also to take the opportunity to express our concern at the indisposition of Lord Gowrie, who this week is confined to his room. All honorable members, together with the citizens of this country, will wish for his early restoration to health.
Illness of Mr. Beasley - Temporary Re-allotment of Ministerial Duties.
– During the absence of the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) owing to illness I have asked the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to act in his stead. Dr. Evatt will, during this period, represent the Minister for Trade and Customs in the House of Representatives. I have also arranged for the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) to assist Dr. Evatt, as may be necessary, in carrying out the duties of Mr. Beasley’s office. I am sure that honorable members will wish me to express our sincere regret at the indisposition of Mr. Beasley, whose health has undoubtedly been affected by the heavy responsibilities that he has carried as a Cabinet Minister during the last two years, and the ho.pe that he will soon be restored to complete health.
– by leave - The last three months of 1943 were notable for a series of momentous conferences between the leaders of the United Nations. At these meetings, plans were made for operations during this critical year against Germany and Japan. These meetings were preceded by the conference between the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Russia at Moscow in October, 1943, at which complete agreement was reached on co-operation in the prosecution of the war, and for the continuance of international collaboration in the post-war period. The Four-Power declaration on security - China being also a party - and the establishment of a European advisory commission were events of the deepest significance. They are a manifestation of the realistic attitude of the great powers towards their responsibilities in the post-war period for the establishment and maintenance of peace and security.
At Cairo, President Roosevelt, Marshal Chiang Kai-shek and Mr. Churchill agreed upon future military strategy against Japan. Plans were concerted to bring unrelenting and ever-rising pressure against the common enemy, and the communique issued after the conference stated that “ the three allies will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations which are necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan”. The political result of the conference was a declaration of the Allied purpose to deprive Japan of islands and territories which she had acquired by aggression.
At the conference at Teheran, complete understanding was reached between President Roosevelt, Marshal Stalin, and Mr. Churchill, on measures for the prosecution of the war against. Germany and for co-operation in the peace that will follow. The scope and timing of operations which are to be undertaken in Europe from the east, west and south were agreed upon, and plans were co ordinated and preparations made for the final defeat of Germany.
These epoch-making conferences demonstrated the complete unity of purpose and close understanding of the United Nations, and the reaffirmation of their inflexible determination to wage the war until the final defeat of the Axis powers has destroyed whatever hopes the enemy had of securing a compromise peace.
The pattern of victory can be discerned, but a stern and difficult task lies ahead, and there are many trials and sacrifices to be undergone before our work is accomplished. Mr. Churchill has given an assurance that, on the defeat of Germany, every man, every ship and every aircraft that, could be moved into the Pacific would be sent and there maintained for as many years as were needed to make the Japanese submit.
The despatch of a British services mission under the leadership of MajorGeneral Lethbridge to the South Pacific, South-West Pacific, and Indian theatres last year is indicative of the preparatory measures being undertaken by the United Kingdom Government for full and effective co-operation against the Japanese. The mission investigated technical aspects of the arrangements for co-operation by British forces with the United States of America in the war in the Pacific, when the combined forces of the United Nations can be brought fully to bear against Japan. The mission paid a glowing tribute to the work of the Australian and American fighting men under difficult jungle conditions. Its visit cannot but have the most important results in enabling the organization of participation by British forces with the minimum of delay when the time comes. A further development was the announcement in November, 1943, of the appointment of Lieutenant-General Lumsden as Mr. Churchills’ representative with the CommanderinChief of the South-West Pacific Area.
The Government regards Australian co-operation with New Zealand as a vital necessity in the development of a regional understanding in the Pacific, and recently concluded a successful conference with New Zealand at which common principles were agreed upon for collaboration and co-operation now and in the post-war period. The agreement which resulted from that conference is an important and historic document, and provides the basis for the development of a more extensive regional understanding with all our neighbours in the Pacific. During these sittings, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) will table the agreement.
The last six months have marked a significant turning point in the war in the South-West Pacific. The defensive stage has passed, and the initiative has been gained from the enemy. The infantry front has now moved forward from the Owen Stanley Range, Gona and Buna, to the northern coast of New Guinea. The capture of advanced airfields has enabled the fighter bomber line to move onwards to a similar degree. Salamaua, Lae, Finschhafen and Sio have fallen to the Australian troops, and the enemy is being steadily driven back in the Ramu Valley. The Americans are firmly entrenched on Bougainville Island and successful landings have also been made by them at Arawe and Cape Gloucester in New Britain, and at Saidor in New Guinea. The landing at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island brought Rabaul within the range of Allied fighters. The operations at Cape Gloucester and Arawe have provided bases in New Britain which ensure surface command of the Vitiaz Straits, and have increased the air threat to Rabaul’s supply lines. A further result is that Kavieng and the Admiralty Islands are brought within decisive reach of Allied land-based aircraft. Airfields and the harbour at Saidor have been seized, and the landing there has also cut off the enemy forces east of Saidor from’ their sources of supply. Those forces are disintegrating under the pressure of the Australian forces advancing from Sio to join up with the Americans at Saidor. In the Ramu Valley, the recent capture by Australian ground forces of strongly-held Japanese positions on Shaggy Ridge was an important gain. Australian forces are now threatening the Japanese lines of communication leading northwards. Fighting has also occurred in South- West Dutch New Guinea where Australian and Dutch troops repulsed an enemy attack on an Allied post in the Eilanden River area.
Allied naval and air forces have played a notable part in these operations, and so effective has been their control of sea and air lanes that the Japanese are experiencing great difficulty in supplying their troops in the Huon Peninsula and in western New Britain. The operations involved combined work by the Allied navy, army and’ air forces and the outstanding success achieved, at a very moderate cost, is a tribute to the soundness and thoroughness of the plans of the operational commanders, the efficiency with which the three services functioned - as a single fighting machine, and the fighting capacity and gallantry of the men of the Australian and United States forces.
The results of these operations are a complete vindication of General MacArthur’s strategy of applying offensive power in swift massive strokes by the use of air power in effective combination with ground forces. As was stated in a recent authoritative survey issued by General Head-quarters, South-West Pacific Area, each phase of the advance has as its objective the seizure of airfields which determine the scope and distance of the next advance. As the air line goes forward, the naval forces, under newly established air coverage, regain control of the sea lanes which previously were the undisputed principal arteries of the enemy’s campaign.
The Allied air offensive in the South West Pacific Area continues with undiminished vigour. Heavy attacks have been made by both land-based and carrierborne aircraft on enemy bases in the northern islands. The Royal Australian Air Force has played an effective part in these air strikes. Under the weight of the Allied bombing attack, Rabaul, which was a focal point for the whole of the Japanese activities in the South-West and South Pacific Areas, has become a precarious naval and air base which the enemy uses at great hazard.
The following figures, recently made available by General MacArthur’s headquarters, illustrate the extent to which Japanese air power in the northern arc of islands suffered during January as a result of these attacks : 546 aircraft destroyed, 171 probably destroyed. Total allied losses during January were 97, which is approximately one for every six enemy aircraft destroyed. Japanese shipping losses during January were 4 auxiliary warships, 24 merchant ships and 172 barges and small craft sunk, 9 merchant ships and 8 barges probably Bunk, and 17 warships, 39 merchant ships, and 90 barges and small craft damaged. Battle casualties suffered by the Australian Military Forces since the beginning of the campaign in New Guinea and Papua to the end of J January, 1944, were 10,470, of whom 3,290 were killed. The total casualties for the three services since the outbreak of war in 1939 to the end of 1943 were 66,930, of whom 16,480 were killed. Australian battle casualties in the war against Japan since the outbreak of hostilities on the 8th December, 1941, to the end of 1943 were 36,600, of whom 4,500 were killed, 7,500 wounded, 19,900 prisoners of war, and 4,700 missing.
The intensive efforts which have been made by the services medical authorities to combat malaria have resulted in a substantial reduction of the incidence of the disease in New Guinea. Anti-malarial measures, including the extensive use of mosquito repellants, the imposition of a strict anti-malarial personnel discipline, and the maintenance of full supplies of anti-malarial drugs, are factors which have led to the success achieved in the control of the disease. However, the difficulties inherent in active operations under jungle conditions necessarily involve a considerable risk of infection by troops in the forward areas, but it is noteworthy that in the recent campaigns, the ratio of malarial casualties in the combat zones has been considerably lower than it was during the Papuan campaign.
The civilized world has been horrified by the revelations, recently published, regarding Japanese treatment of prisoners of war and civilians. As was announced by the Minister for External Affairs, a special commission of inquiry was set up some months ago to investigate Japanese war crimes against Australians in the South- West Pacific Area. Where atrocities are established, full details, together with the names of those guilty of perpetrating them, will be submitted to the United Nations War Crimes Commission for record and subsequent punishment.
So far as our own nationals are concerned, every effort is being made to obtain information regarding the conditions under which they are detained. Reports indicate that in some cases conditions are improving but that there is still much to be desired, and, in many cases, no information at all can be obtained. The failure of the Japanese Government to observe its international obligations calls for the most severe condemnation. The release of our kinsmen has always been a potent factor in the mind of the Government. Nothing less than the complete and final defeat of Japan will bring about the release of these captives. The constant aim of the Government has been to reduce the period of their ordeal, and it is hoped that the increasing weight of military assaults will bring to the Japanese military leaders a realization of their accountability and an amelioration of the lot of prisoners of waT.
The United States landing in the Marshall Islands is a major development in the Pacific war, which is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the Japanese. The occupation of the Gilbert Islands in November, 1943, provided a springboard for this attack, which is the first offensive in the Pacific against Japanese territory. The operations are being carried out on a large scale by land, sea and air forces. As was announced in a recent communique, upwards of 30,000 marines and troops and more than 2,000,000 tons of naval vessels have been deployed. Casualties have been very moderate. All reports indicate that the attack is proceeding satisfactorily. The attack on the Marshall Islands marks an important stage in the implementation of the United Nations’ strategy of maintaining unremitting pressure against Japan concurrently with an “all out” effort against Germany. Already, Japanese attempts at consolidation in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea have been frustrated. The attack on the Marshall Islands is a new drive against the Japanese perimeter of defence, extending from Burma through the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea, Rabaul and the mandated islands, and is a foretaste of what lies ahead. Bases in the
Marshall Islands will .bring the important Japanese naval base at Truk within range of United States heavy bombers. For some time now, a considerable proportion of the Japanese fleet has been in hiding at Truk. The recent operations in New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons did not draw the enemy out, but the nearer the United Nations approach to Japanese vital areas, the more certain it is that the enemy must come out and fight for them. It remains to be seen whether he will be prepared to hazard a major naval engagement for the Marshall Islands. In the words of Rear-Admiral Turner, who is in command of the amphibious operations, “ The invasion of the Marshall Islands could be the main event of the Pacific war. Anything can happen now. We hope it does. We have never been readier.”
For six and a half years, the Chinese people have maintained their stubborn resistance to the Japanese. Despite enormous difficulties, ‘China continues to engage the attention of a substantial part of the Japanese Army. Aircraft operating from Chinese bases are inflicting increasing damage on enemy installations and shipping, but transport is the limiting factor. China’s supply problems, although eased to some degree by the development of air transport from India, remain acute. In Burma, now a part of the South-East Asia command under Lord Louis ‘Mountbatten, the Allied forces are exerting increasing pressure on the Japanese, both on land and in the air. The difficulties of the terrain are great, however, and we cannot look for any early spectacular results in this area.
Although, as ‘General Montgomery has pointed out, the Eighth Army advanced 700 miles in the three months from the 3rd September to the 3rd December, 1943, recent progress in Italy has been slow. Weather conditions have been most unfavorable. Another problem is supply. Methodical destruction by the Germans of port facilities, bridges and railways has placed a great strain on engineering and supply personnel. The landing of Allied forces on the west coast of Italy, south of Rome, is a fresh development of importance. It is, of course, Ger many’s aim to delay the Allied advance and tie down in the Mediterranean as much of the Allied strength as possible. The Allied aim is to extend its bomber line from the south as near to Germany as possible. When the time for the assault in the west comes, Germany will feel the concerted pressure of operations in the south and east also.
During the last summer in Europe, the Red Army demonstrated its ability to drive the Axis forces back under summer as well as winter conditions. During the present winter, the Russian forces have not only maintained their great offensive south of the Pripet Marshes, but have also launched a new offensive in the Leningrad area. This attack, which was launched exactly one year after the lifting of the blockade of Leningrad, has broken through the strongest fixed defences established by the enemy on the Russian front, and Russian troops are now advancing into Estonia. In the salient below the middle Dnieper, Russian forces have achieved another notable success in the encirclement of ten German divisions, whose position is serious. The magnitude of the Russian achievements is illustrated by the fact that more’ than 200 German divisions are fighting on the Russian front, and that for over two and a half years Russia has had to deal with by far the greatest part of the Axis forces in Europe.
The weight of Allied air attacks from the west continues to increase. Reports of raids on German cities tell of enormous damage, which is having a very considerable effect on Germany’s war potential. In addition to the physical damage inflicted, the air offensive has compelled the German Air Force to divert its fighters from the Russian front, has tied down a large part of the German anti-aircraft ground defences, and has made extensive demands on man-power to cope with air raid damage. Daylight attacks by bombers and fighters are inflicting heavy losses on German fighter aircraft. The German aircraft industry has been compelled to concentrate on the production of fighter aircraft for defensive purposes, rather than on bomber types. With regard to the invasion of Europe from the west, recent announcements regarding the appointment of
Allied commanders make it obvious that developments are brewing.
In the Atlantic, the TJ-boat menace may now be said to be under control. Increased air cover for convoys, new anti-submarine devices, and construction of new escort vessels, have combined to reduce sinkings of Allied ships to very favorable figures. In this result, the use of facilities in the Azores, made available by Portugal under the treaty of alliance, has been an important factor. While attacks on merchant shipping have diminished, the rate of sinkings of U-boats has also diminished from the very favorable results of August-October, 1943. Allied shipping tonnage has greatly increased. In 1943, new building exceeded sinkings by more than 3,000,000 tons.
In the Pacific theatre, the balance of results in submarine warfare is heavily in favour of the Allies. Enemy submarine activity has been relatively ineffective. Australian waters, owing no doubt to the enemy’s preoccupations in other regions, have been free from enemy submarine attacks for some months. Despite the general improvement in shipping tonnage, however, it is still necessary to exercise the greatest economy in the use of available resources. Amphibious operations make great demands on merchant shipping, and, at least until Germany is defeated, we cannot expect to have any substantial increase of shipping in Pacific waters.
When Japan struck its first blows in the Pacific, the threat of invasion of the Australian mainland became such a grave possibility that it was necessary to mobilize land, sea and air forces to the maximum strength of our capacity. It was also essential to concentrate a large proportion of man-power, woman-power, and productive resources on supplying the needs of the forces. In short, the absolute priority of the fighting forces and their requirements became paramount over every other consideration. Obviously, these drastic measures were not without their effects in other directions.
Fortunately, there has been a change for the better from the military aspect. The Japanese have been driven back and
Australia has been made secure as a base, but the very factors which have contributed to the improvement have brought with them new problems. To take illustrations, in the strategical sphere we have passed from the defensive to the offensive. Thi3 entails the development of base facilities for the navy, army and air force in entirely new localities from those which would have continued to be used had the Japanese been able to pin us down to defensive operations. An illustration in the military realm is the growing strength of the Allied forces ?n Australia, and the extensive demands for camps, hospitals, munitions, equipment, food and other supplies, and repair and services facilities.
The diversions and regroupings involve endless adjustments over the entire national economy. It is a far easier process to mobilize man-power and marshal resources from non-essential or less essential activities, than to transfer them back from high priority work. A man who went from the land to the army may have become a most efficient soldier and be holding a key position in an operational unit. A farm worker may have become an efficient factory hand, and may have taken the radical step of transferring his home and family from a rural to an urban area. Persons being discharged from the forces and the factories may not all have had the training and experience to fit them for the work for which labour is required in the industries needing relief.
The Government’s problem has been to discover the best solution by allocating the national resources of man-power and production, so as to ensure a proper balance between the military and civil efforts. The first step has been the determination of the broad limits and nature of both the military and civil efforts of which the Commonwealth is capable, in order to ensure that those limits are related to the commitments which are being undertaken. This means that we have to assess the personnel strength of the Australian forces that we can maintain and our capacity to supply them ; the essential requirements of the civilian population; the extent to which we can export foodstuffs to Britain; and the food, munitions, general supplies, works and services which we can provide for the Allied forces. The limits of our capacity in all cases fall short of the demands made upon them.
The decisions of the Government in October, 1943, were taken after consideration of the recommendations of the Defence Committee regarding the strength and composition of the services, a comprehensive review of the manpower position ‘by the War Commitments Committee, and a submission by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture regarding the Australian food programme. As was announced at the time, the Government decided that 20,000 men should be released from the Army by the end of June, 1944, in addition to normal discharges and temporary releases for seasonal work. It was also decided that 20,000 men should be released from the munitions and aircraft bloc over the same period, subject to certain set-offs in respect of new projects. Priority was to be given to the provision of 15,000 men for rural industry, and the pool of seasonal farm workers was to be increased. At the same time, the Government determined the rate of intake for the services and the strengths at which the armed forces were to be maintained. These strengths were, of course, related to the operational plans of the Commander-in-chief of the SouthWest Pacific Area. Action was also taken to review the munitions and works programmes of the services, with the object of ascertaining to what extent the man-power position could be relieved by adjustments in these programmes.
Considerable progress has been made with the release of personnel from the Army in accordance with these decisions. Up to the 29th January, 1944, 16,217 applications for release had been received, of which 6,634 had been approved, 3,308 were under consideration, and 6,275 had been refused. In the great majority of cases in which release has been refused, the personnel concerned are in operational formations. We cannot afford to weaken units which are engaged or intended to be engaged in active operations. As I have said, the maintenance of the fighting strength of the Army is the primary consideration, and the Government is determined that the Army shall not be treated as a reserve of man-power to be drawn on to maintain civilian services at the expense of the offensive against Japan.
In addition to releases from the Army, some 6,500 men have been released from the munitions and aircraft bloc since the 1st October, 1943, to highpriority employment in the field of indirect war production. As against this, however, increased employment in other sections of the munitions and aircraft bloc reduces the net releases to a considerably lower figure. As far as rural industry is concerned, it is estimated by the War Commitments Committee that since the 1st October, 1943, more than 6,000 men have been added to the rural labour force by discharge from the services, release from the Army for rural work, or diversion by the manpower directorate. The conditions of rural employment, especially in the dairy industry, give rise to special difficulties in any attempt to increase the man-power available. Apart from the general shortage of experienced labour, it has been found that many fanners are unwilling to accept other than nominated personnel, which comprise, predominantly, sons and relatives previously employed on the farms.
It is important to emphasize that no allocation of man-power resources between the various claimants can remain operative for any great period of time. Changes in the strategical situation and information in the light of actual experience, in regard to such matters as rates of production and consumption of commodities, casualties, discharges from the forces, and the like, make it necessary that there shall be a periodical review of the man-power situation at fairly frequent intervals. It is all a question of balance - a little more or a little less in some directions - until the basic point of stability is established, and the pressure of stresses and strains is equally spread over the whole field of the national war effort. The War Commitments Committee, at the direction of War Cabinet, has recently made a fresh assessment of the situation, and this further review is at present receiving the attention of the Government. I need not add that General
Mao Arthur has been kept fully informed of the Government’s decisions on these important matters, and has expressed his full agreement with the general principles laid down. He has also expressed his appreciation of the assistance he has received from Australia in the form of naval, land and air forces and the various classes of supplies, works and services.
The scale of Australia’s military effort will have an important bearing on our status at the peace table. It is of vital importance to our future that the part which we play should be such as to guarantee us an effective voice in the peace settlement. There is, therefore, a minimum below which our military effort cannot be permitted to fall.
Despite the favorable developments I have described to-day, there is as yet no reason to believe that Germany will be defeated without the launching of an invasion from the west. The enemy has had a long time in which to prepare his defences against such an invasion, and experience has shown that a front of this kind cannot be opened without severe sacrifices of men and material. It seems clear that the climax of the war in Europe will be reached this year. When Germany is defeated, it will still take some time to mount an overpowering offensive against Japan. The Japanese are stubborn, tenacious foes, and they have had a long time to consolidate their position. Whilst we can be hopeful for the future, we cannot count upon an early or an easy victory. The sacrifices being made by our fighting men, and the sufferings of our troops who are in enemy hands, demand that we, on the home front, shall not relax our endeavours for one moment. Much has been achieved in the past, and the Government pridefully pays tribute to those who have worked so arduously, efficiently, and patriotically. The people of Australia now face a period in which the call is for endurance, unflagging zeal, and untiring concentration on fighting and working.
What I have just said is intended to underline the situation that this country now faces. We must have unrelaxed effort, undiminished determination, and the maximum concentration on the tasks of war. What I have told the House reveals, surely, that this year is one in which we are to seek on all fronts to mount the attack on a scale requisite to bring the war to the earliest possible, and yet victorious, termination. The task of invading Europe from the west involves a very great allocation of resources by the United Nations. If the invasion is to be successful, and if it is to be achieved at a minimum of cost, it must be undertaken in the strongest possible way. The more strongly it is mounted the more certainly will it achieve satisfactory results. For such a mounting, it must be clear that very great numbers of American and Dominion personnel must be based in the United Kingdom in addition to those already assembled there. That calls for the accumulation, in the United Kingdom, of the requisite resources and reserves. Therefore Australia has a task to perform in ensuring that anything it can do shall be done to strengthen the capacity of the Allied Nations to launch from the United Kingdom the invasion against Europe from the west. For the operations to be launched from the United Kingdom we cannot provide, those things which we consume ourselves. Consequently, the minimum consumption of war requirements on the part of Australia will enable us to make the largest contribution that we can make to the attack which is being prepared in Western Europe against our enemies. Our maximum production must also be considered in conjunction with the energetic prosecution o£ the war against Japan. The gains that have been won against Japan are so important strategically that instead of losing grip of them we must extend our hold and advance our offensive. The decisions made at Cairo and Teheran involve the exertion of the maximum energy against Germany - concentration on the defeat of Germany in the minimum time - concurrently with the most energetic waging of war against Japan. All these operations demand that there shall be devoted to the prosecution of the war the maximum capacity of the nation and that there shall be kept for civilian use only the minimum requisite for the maintenance of the essential standard of life of the civil community.
I believe that in this year we are entering upon the stage which will be the prelude to the termination of the war. The greater our endurance in this year, the more willingly we undertake the tasks of war, the greater our concentration on these tasks, the greater will be the resources that we shall be able to place at the disposal of our commanders to carry out the strategy and tactics that are desired. Certain of our Allies have been fighting for a long time. I have already mentioned the length of time that China has been fighting. The people of the United Kingdom, too, have been fighting for a long time. While the enemy has been using up his resources we also have been using up our resources, and it would be unrealistic on my part not to acknowledge it. Most certainly the people of the United Kingdom, in particular, have had to bear stresses and strains inseparable from the maintenance of their island home, not only for themselves, but also as a base which the United Nations could and must use. The United Kingdom had to be held in order that it could be used as & base for the launching of a vast force against Germany. That this has been achieved by Great Britain is a matter not only for admiration, but also for thanksgiving, for had that base not been held Germany would have won the war. That is a fact. The people of the United Kingdom have been engaged in active warfare longer than have the people of Australia.
I shall not go into details, but I say quite firmly that, with many others in this country, I have been concerned about the ill distribution of wealth. I have seen the contrast between the conditions of those who have and the conditions of those who have not. I have seen that too many go without, for too few have had too much. But to-day I am concerned about what I consider to be the inadequate distribution of the necessaries of life among our kith and kin in Great Britain, our comrades in this great struggle. We in Australia owe it to them and we should regard it as our privilege, to make our maximum contribution to their physical needs so that their stamina may be maintained and so that, having regard to what they have already undergone, they will be able to stand up to the physical ordeal that they must endure before victory can be gained. Any comparisons which can be made between what has been done in this country in the past and what is being done now are beside the point. The important thing for me to ask myself is, “How much of meat, butter, eggs and other foodstuffs can I contribute towards my colleagues, my brothers as it were, in the United Kingdom ? “ If this nation desires to bring the Japanese war to the earliest possible termination it must, this year, make its utmost physical contribution towards ensuring that supplies requisite for the great attack from Great Britain on Germany shall be provided on the largest possible scale. If we do this we shall make more certain not only the victory against Germany, but also tie earlier termination of the war against Japan. It is also true that, increasingly, forces are to be deployed from this base, that this theatre is not being neglected but, indeed, is being used, for the most energetic prosecution of the war against Japan. Consequently, there will be more fighting men to feed in this part of the world than there have been hitherto. I do not propose to indicate the kind of forces that will come, and indeed are already coming here. I merely say that it is our bounden duty to ensure that they will not have to bring with them anything that it is in the capacity of this country to supply; for that would be a waste of transport and efficiency, and an uneconomic use of the total resources of the Allies.
I conclude this review of the war situation by saying that in this year, for the first time, the United Nations are on the offensive in all theatres, and, because we are on the offensive, the task of war becomes even more vital; for if mistakes be made our operations will not be so successful as we would wish them to be and will involve losses of out fighting men which could have” been avoided. No fighting man anywhere in the world should be sent to do a task without being assured that the maximum strength of the United Nations is with him and that there is no deficiency that could have been avoided. This is a year in which we can win all; but it is also a year in which we could incur most grievous losses and heavy casualties, resulting in a prolongation of the war, if we diverted from the tasks of war the maximum capacity of the nation, in order that we ourselves might have that which, in the present circumstances of the conflict, we have no title to expect. I know of no burden that the people of Australia are to-day bearing which is comparable with that of the people of China or of Russia or of the United Kingdom. I speak with knowledge of the facts. As we have no burden equal to that which they are carrying, and are asked to make no sacrifices equal to those which they will still be called upon to make, it surely is not too much to ask that every man and woman in this country shall regard this year not only as a year of fate but also as a year in which the measure of his or her devotion to the total cause will either shorten or prolong the struggle. I lay on the table the following papers : -
Review of the war - Ministerial statement, 9th February, 1944, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Report and Balance-sheet.
Mr.CURTIN.- I inform honorable members that copies of the report of the directors and of the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited as at the 30th June, 1943, have been placed on the table of the Library.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Nineteenth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 31st December, 1943.
A report on the Commonwealth Public Service was not furnished in respect of the previous year, owing to the heavy pressure of the work upon which the board was engaged.
– by leave - In October,. 1943, I announced in the House that the Government was willing to appoint, in collaboration with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) a special parliamentary committee to inquire into and report upon the advisability of substituting, for the existing basis of taxation, the income of the current financial year of assessment. This committee has been appointed under the chairmanship of the Treasurer (Mr.Chifley), and its members are: The Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), Senator Spicer, Messrs. Anthony, Coles, Scullin, and Spender. It was arranged that the committee should function during the recent recess, pending formal constitution by resolution of the Parliament. In accordance with that arrangement, the committee has met on six occasions - the 13th, 14th and l5th December, 1943, the 11th January and the 9th February,. 1944. In order that the committee may be formally constituted, I move -
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Prime Minister has said that it is proposed to table the Australian-New Zealand Agreement 1944. I ask the Attorney-General to state whether or not the tabling is to be for the purpose of receiving the ratification of this House? If not, why was this Parliament not given an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon such far-reaching issues as are contained in the agreement before it was made? If it is to be submitted for ratification, why was such publicity given to a document which had not come before this Parliament for that purpose?
– The agreement between the Governments of New Zealand and Australia provides for its ratification by the Government, but not by the Parliament, of each of those countries. A provision for its ratification by the Parliament would be very unusual in such an agreement.
– Order! The Attorney-General may not debate the merits of the question.
-I am not doing that, but am endeavouring to give the honorable member the facts. The answer to his first question is, that the agreement provides for its ratification by the Governments of the two countries concerned. Such ratification has been made, and notification of it has been exchanged. The agreement is in full force and effect. In accordance with the usual practice in relation to similar agreements, this agreement will be brought before this House for discussion, and will not merely be laid on the table.
Warwick Detention Camp - Release of Personnel
– Is the Minister for the Army in a position to make a statement with respect to the alleged ill treatment of prisoners at the Warwick detention camp?
– The charges of ill treatment of soldiers at the Warwick detention barracks have been fully investigated. Several members of the staff of the detention barracks have been tried by District Court Martial, and generally the charges have not been sustained. In three instances soldiers were found guilty and sentences will be promulgated if and when the sentences have been confirmed. The proceedings, which were very lengthy, are at present under review by the Legal Staff at Army Headquarters. The staffing of the barracks has been reviewed, and arrangements have been made for a new Commandant and for the replacement of the majority of the staff.
– In the matter of the release of Army personnel for employment or other purposes, will the Minister for the Army state whether or not any preference is given to men who have had some years of service?
– Categories from which discharges were to be made were laid down by the War Cabinet after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief. These are -
Certain other categories were stipulated and agreed upon by War Cabinet, after consultation with the CommanderinChief. These lay down the personnel who cannot be released, regardless of manpower recommendation, and are as follows : -
Our military advisers stipulated that, in order that the attack might he maintained in the forward operational areas, there could be no interference with units in New Guinea and units in reinforcement depots en route to New Guinea.
– That means that members of the Australian Imperial Force do not enter into consideration?
– It is not wise to state, even in this House, where the Australian Imperial Force is. Notwithstanding the existence of these categories from which discharges cannot be made, the number of discharges up to the 5th February was 7,307, although the Army had promised only that 6,000 would be released up to the end of January.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether an instruction was issued that a higher proportion of agricultural workers should be released in the northern States than in the southern ones? Up to date, I have been successful in obtaining the release of only one man, and he was sent back to New Guinea within a fortnight.
– No such instruction was given.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service state what protection is being given to juniors who are being released from the Army for rural work? Where they are not covered by an industrial award, are they to be paid wages at junior or adult rates for the work they are performing?
– In all cases where awards, agreements, or wages board decisions are in operation, men aged from eighteen to nineteen years who are released from the Army must be paid the award rates. Where there is no award covering the work they are sent to do, they must be paid the full rate that they would get as single men in the Army, that is, 6s. 6d. a day for seven days a week and 2s. a day deferred pay. Employers must not regard any of them as minors.
– Can the Minister for the Army state what proportion of the 7,000 men released fromthe Army have gone into primary industries, how many have gone into secondary industries, and how many have rejoined such unions as the tramways union?
– The releases from the Army were made for the purpose of assisting in primary production, and the man-power authorities are watching the position very carefully in order to ensure that the men released do, in fact, go back to the farms as was intended.
– Will the Minister be good enough to give to the House the names and addresses of the men who have been discharged from the Army for employment in rural industries, so that districts to which men have not yet been allotted may obtain some of them?
– I have a heavy correspondence to attend to, and if I were to send out the names and addresses of 7,307 men already discharged from the Army and add a further 2,000 names a month, plus 7,000 ordinary discharges for medical reasons, it would be impossible to obtain a staff to cope with the work.
– In viewof the statement by the Prime Minister that of 16,217 applications forrelease of Army personnel for farming operations 6,634 were granted, and also the fact that in the electorate of Richmond, which has a No. 1 priority because of its importance in the matter of butter production, less than 20 per cent, of such applications have been approved - not the 40 per cent, stated by the right honorable gentleman - can he give any information to the House as to the districts in which the released men are working?
– In dealing with the release of men for rural production the Government has regard to Australia as a whole, and does not take cognizance of individual constituencies.
Prisoners of War
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether there are sufficient prisoners of war available to satisfy the requests received from Tasmania for rural labour? If not, can he say when a sufficient number will be available, and whether Tasmania will be allotted an equitable share?
– I cannot say whether Tasmania will ever be satisfied, but up to date 500 men have been allotted to that State.
– That is not enough.
– Tasmania is getting a fair share of the labour available; 165 prisoners of war have already been placed in employment in that State and 335 more for employment there are now on the water.
– Will the Minister for
Commerce arid Agriculture indicate the nature of the relief that is planned for those primary producers who suffered loss as the result of the recent disastrous bush fires? Will he also indicate the progress that has been made in giving effect to the Government’s decisions, and the degree of Commonwealth and State co-operation that has been achieved in the matter?
– The matter will be investigated and a full reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
Civilian Employment - Preference - Surgical Boots
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that many soldiers are being discharged from the forces without receiving any guidance as to the facilities that are available to help them to obtain civilian employment? What are the detailed plans to give instructions and training to ex-servicemen who need to learn a trade or engage in a profession? What steps are being taken to secure an effective liaison between the Army and the Repatriation Department? Is it not a fact that many men are being discharged from the Army with no instruction at all as to their repatriation beyond an intimation that they should apply to the man-power authorities?
– No man who is eligible for assistance by the Repatriation Department is discharged from the Army without being given the information that he needs. An officer is available for that purpose. Wounded discharged men are being given vocational training in order to fit them to take their part in the life of the nation. Financial assistance amounting to practically the basic wage is being given to them until they find employment. No man is discharged without having his case carefully considered by the Repatriation Department.
– For a considerable time honorable members on the Opposition side have been endeavouring to secure the passage of legislation to ensure preference in employment to returned soldiers. Has the Attorney-General received from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia a draft bill dealing with the matter? Has the Minister considered the bill and does he propose to introduce legislation during the present sittings of Parliament in order to give effect to that preference ?
– The matter is now being considered by a departmental committee. Such a draft bill was received recently by the Prime Minister from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, but I have not yet had an opportunity of discussing it. In the last Parliament provision was made in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act for preference to returned soldiers of the present war in relation to employment both in the Commonwealth Public Service and in Commonwealth i nstrumentalities.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs ask that gentleman, in his capacity of Minister in charge of rationing, to confer with the repatriation authorities with a view to having surgical hoots made available coupon-free to persons discharged from the forces suffering from foot disabilities?
– I shall do as the honorable member suggests.
– Last year Mr Isa Mines Limited was instructed to cease copper production. Early in January, following a conference, the date was extended to the end of February, and in the meantime a complete investigation of the matter was to be made. Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform the House whether this investigation has been completed? If it has, what will be the position at Mr Isa after the 29th February?
– The investigation will be completed very shortly. In the meantime directions have been issued that all supplies of copper from Mr Isa will be accepted by the Government until a date to be fixed at the end of March. Before that time a comprehensive report on the position with regard to copper throughout Australia will be available.
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.Will the Treasurer say whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that an undertaking has been given to certain industrial taxpayers that such deductions of income tax as would reduce the income received by them to a sum below the basic wage will not be required ? If that is correct, will the Treasurer see that the same concession is made to all taxpayers ?
– No such undertaking has been given.
– On the 29th Sep tember, and on the 6th October, 1943, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked me questions, without notice, relative to the provision of landing barges for conversion into floats to minimize fire risks in the Brisbane River area. This matter formed the subject of discussion at a conference convened by my department in Brisbane, at which the State authorities, the Service authorities and other bodies interested in the matter were represented. Subsequently, as a result of a joint recommendation by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) and myself, War Cabinet agreed to the release to the Queensland State Government of two landing barges, subject to the State meeting the cost and accepting responsibility for the fitting and conversion of these barges into fire floats. The necessary trailer pumps to enable conversion to proceed have been supplied by my department, and I am advised that the barges in question have been handed over by the Department of the Army and are now in process of being fitted out as fire floats. I also understand that two additional barges have been released to the Queensland Government by the United States authorities. This means that four fire floats will be available on the Brisbane River.
Stocks in Victoria - Cargoes on Greek Ships - Statement by Mr. Willis.
– I understand that whereas normally coal stocks are built up in Victoria at this time of the year, it has been stated that unless adequate supplies be received within seven days the principal gas manufacturing company will have to shut down some of its manufacturing sections. Has the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping had an opportunity to investigate this statement, and, if so, what action does the Government propose to take to ensure that adequate supplies of coal shall be available in Victoria and in other States which may be in a similar position?
– As we all know, and as the Prime Minister has pointed out, the coal position is quite serious. Whether the statement to which attention has been directed is correct or not I cannot say, but I was informed by the Secretary of the Supply Department this evening that, if necessary, special supplies will be diverted to Melbourne. I do not attempt to disguise the fact that the real cause of the trouble is the inadequate production of coal, and further, even when coal is available for export from New South Wales to other States, there is trouble in the shipping industry. The Government is doing its best to cope with the situation.
– Is it taking some emergency action?
– Yes, to deal with the exceptional situation which has arisen in Melbourne.
– Will the Acting Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether it is a fact that 2,500 tons of coal is held up in Newcastle Harbour in three Greek ships, the Greek shipping authorities having refused to give effect to an agreement reached at a conference of all parties a few weeks ago? Is it also a fact that, in order to avoid a conference with the waterside workers and the Seamen’s Union, the committee which controls Greek shipping in this country has resigned? What steps ha;ve been taken to see that these ships shall immediately put to sea for the delivery of the coal to its destination? _ Dr. EVATT.- Trouble’ of the kind indicated by the honorable member has occurred, and action has ‘been taken with the object of taking the vessels to sea.
– Did the Prime Minister read the reported statement of the recently appointed chairman of the Central Coal Reference Board to the effect that his sympathies were naturally with the coal-miners? If so, does the Prime Minister regard that as a proper statement to be made by a person appointed by the Government to arbitrate in disputes between employers and employees ?
– The fact that a man has some human feeling for the miners does not debar him from having a judicial mind.
– Has the Prime Minister given consideration to the request that I made to him at the beginning of January that, in view of the disturbing factors associated with certain aspects of Army administration, he should arrange for a secret meeting of the
Parliament to discuss those matters, so that they could be put on a proper basis ? The right honorable gentleman said that it was impossible to do that on account, of the conference with New Zealand Ministers. I asked him then to obtain certain information. Has he secured it?
– I did get the information. As to the first part of the right honorable gentleman’s question, I have considered the matter and the reply is in the negative.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government proposes to appoint a full-time Minister for post-war planning, in conformity with the decision of the recent conference of the Australian Labour party?
– The Government has nothing to do with the allocation of ministerial portfolios. That matter comes within my province as Prime Minister, and I propose to deal with the allocation of portfolios from time to time as occasion justifies any variation.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior state whether, in view of the everincreasing importance of electrical power to Australia’s primary and secondary industries, a conference will be convened of representatives of the Commonwealth and of the States of New South Wales and Victoria, with a view to utilizing the waters of the Tumut and Snowy Rivers for the generation of electrical power?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for the Interior and obtain an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– Having regard to the public interest which attaches to the matter, will the Minister for Air take an early opportunity to make a statement in the House setting out the position that now exists with respect to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), and as it may apply to any member of the Parliament who, having joined a combatant section of the armed forces, and who, as in this case, has been commissioned and trained at a cost to the public exceeding £3,000, now seeks to be placed, as public reports give u3 to understand, upon the reserve of officers, without having taken any steps at all to discharge the functions for which he entered the armed services?
– I can reply to the honorable member’s question now. The facts are that the honorable member for “Watson completed his training towards the middle of last year, and served for a portion of the time afterwards as a staff pilot. He was then granted leave for the purpose of attending to his parliamentary duties for a period. He has now made application for cancellation of his original application to be placed on the reserve, and has asked to be posted to an operational unit.
– Did the Prime Minister read in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday last a reported statement by the Minister for Munitions that the referendum proposals should be supported in order to give the Commonwealth Government power to engage in industrial enterprises on a strictly commercial basis so as to keep existing munitions factories running efficiently, thus safeguarding in the public interest capital to the amount of £100,000,000 which had, for the most part, been invested by the Commonwealth? “Will the Prime Minister say whether this statement represents the policy of the Government?
– It is not the practice to make statements on matters of policy in reply to questions.
– Has the Prime Minister seen in this morning’s press a statement reported to have been made by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) that the best results can be obtained after the war only if the manufacture of civil and defence aircraft ‘ is placed under government control, the same as the Navy, the railways and all other essential services, and that although the Labour party had placed much of its policy in cold storage, there were certain points on which the party admitted of no compromise? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether his colleague spoke for himself or for the Government?
– I have not seen the statement.
– It appeared in to-day’s Canberra Times.
– That does not necessarily add to the weight of the statement. I do not know what the Minister for Aircraft Production said. If he was speaking of any portion of the Labour party’s policy being kept in cold storage, I am sure that what he meant was that immediately dinner-time arrived it would be taken out of the refrigerator.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Commonwealth Government’s plan for the pegging of prices has .’broken down in Queensland to the detriment of manufacturers in that State? Is he aware that, although the State Arbitration Court has refused to reduce wages by ls. in accordance with the reduction of the cost of living, the Commonwealth Government has reduced its subsidy to manufacturers just as if wages had in fact been reduced; while, at the same time, the Commonwealth, by pegging prices, is compelling manufacturers to bear the whole cost of the reduced subsidy? Will the Prime Minister examine the prices regulations with a view to removing this sectional injustice?
– The honorable member’s question is somewhat complicated, and I ask him to place it on the notice-paper. At the same time, I deny the statement that the Government’s price stabilization policy has broken down.
– In view of the fact that satisfactory sales of wheat have recently been effected by the Australian Wheat Board, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say when payments from No. 5 pool are likely to be completed, and when further payments may be expected from No. 6 pool, seeing that the growers are in need of finance?
– We expect that final payments from No. 5 pool will be made soon. A further advance from the residue of No. 6 pool will be discussed with the Treasurer at an early date.
Rotation of Service
– Can the Minister for Air say whether a scheme for the rotation of service is yet in operation in respect of air crews who have been some years overseas, so as to enable them to serve on the Pacific front, while at the same time providing an opportunity to members of the Air Force now in Australia to serve overseas?
– No scheme of rotation has yet been evolved, but members of air crews are being returned to Australia from time to time, and that policy will be continued. The honorable member knows as well as I do that it would be impossible to withdraw large numbers of men from overseas in view of what is known to be impending in the European war theatre.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider the possibility of utilizing the rich shale deposits of New South Wales in order to supplement supplies of coal, particularly for the manufacture of gas?
– As the honorable member knows, my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), has given much consideration to this matter, and I shall have the honorable member’s suggestion inquired into.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister in charge of rationing seen a recent press report in which it was stated that huge quantities of meat unconsumed because of rationing are piling up in cold storage, and that shipping space is not available to deliver the meat to Great Britain ; that the Commonwealth Government was so concerned over the position that it recently appealed to the Government of Great Britain to make ships available; and that unless the congestion was relieved meat rationing might have to be suspended?
– The information in my possession is to the effect that the report referred to by the honorable member is not correct. As a matter of fact, large quantities of meat have been, and are being, shipped to Great Britain. The full quota for January was shipped. The programme for this month provides for the export of an especially large quota, and ships for the transport of this meat have already been arranged for. The Minister in charge of shipping (Mr. Beasley) foresaw the problem some months ago, and discussed it with two representatives of the British Ministry of War Transport and the United States War Shipping Administration when they were visiting this country. Arrangements were made for the necessary ships for Australia. All the meat available will be lifted. It has not been necessary to appeal to the Government of Great Britain to provide shipping. There is no truth in the suggestion that meat rationing might have to be suspended. A good deal of unsavoury propaganda has been released on the subject of meat rationing, but there is nothing to support the suggestion that rationing will have to be suspended. There is no doubt that shipments of meat to Great Britain will be maintained.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister in charge of rationing consider the introduction of the British system, under which rationing is based upon the cash value of the meat rather than on quantity? Many bush workers rely largely upon supplies of corned beef, which is comparatively cheap, and under the system which I propose they would be able to get larger quantities. The system would also encourage the use of mutton.
– I shall bring the honorable member’s suggestion to the attention of the Minister in charge of rationing.
– In view of the fact that there is a very serious shortage of homes will the Minister for War Organization of Industry state whether there is likely to be any relaxation of the existing building restrictions?
– From time to time the Government reviews the situation in the light of man-power requirements and available resources. I am not in a position to state that any relaxation of existing building restrictions can be made.
– Is it a fact that, in the course of a recent broadcast address, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said that Australians need not fear that there would be any reduction of the butter ration, and that even if it meant that Great Britain would be supplied with a smaller quantity, the present ration would be maintained in Australia ? Will the Minister state what is the present weekly ration in Great Britain as compared with the ration in Australia, and will he state by how much Australia was short in its butter shipments to Great Britain during the last few months?
– I made no statement of the kind attributed to me, but I shall obtain the information which the honorable member asked for in the last part of his question.
– I understand that the Minister’s statement was heard by many people in Victoria.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping say whether a bill to give effect to the promise of the Government to establish aluminium smelters in Tasmania has yet been drafted ? If so, when does he expect that it will be made available to honorable members?
– A bill had been drafted to give effect to the original proposal announced by my colleague the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley), but. recently there has been a new development in connexion with this matter ; the Government of Tasmania has made an offer to share in the enterprise. That proposal is now under consideration by Cabinet. The bill, therefore, will have to await a decision in regard to this new development.
– Did the original draft bill provide for that?
-Should Cabinet agree to the proposal of the Government of Tasmania, the bill will have to be redrafted.
– I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply : -
I desire to acquaint you that the AddressinReply at the opening of the Seventeenth Parliament was duly laid before His Majesty the King, and I am commanded to convey to you and to honorable members His Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your address gives expression. (Signed) Gowrie, Governor-General. 4th December, 1943.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1943.
Sales Tax Bills (Nos. 1 to 9) 1943.
States Grants Bill 1943.
Loan Bill (No. 3) 1943.
Appropriation Bill 1943-44.
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1943-44.
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Bill 1943.
National Debt Commission - Help for Wheat-farmers : Commonwealth Bank: Mortgage Bank Department - Real Estate Transactions - Shepparton Tomato Crop.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.FADDEN (Darling Downs - Leader of the Australian Country party) [9.40] . - I draw attention to the Twentieth Annual Report of the National Debt Commission, which is signed by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the Secretary to the Treasury, the Solicitor-General, and Mr. T. D. Kelly, the representative of the States. Paragraph 12 of the report, which is a statutory document, seeing that it was presented pursuant to Statute and ordered to be printed on the 24th September, 1943, contains the following statement: - .
During the depression years from 1929-30 onwards, abnormal deficits were experienced by all State Governments, and the Loan Council arranged to finance these deficits up to and inclusive of the year 1934-35 by means of borrowings from the Commonwealth Bank under the security of the Commonwealth treasury-bills.
I emphasize the word “ all “. On the 12th October last I asked the following questions : -
In view of the fact that the AuditorGeneral has given a qualified certificate only in respect to financial transactions of the National Debt Sinking Fund for 1942-43 in that correctness is “ subject to the opinions of counsel referred to in paragraph 13 of the report”, will the Treasurer table the case for opinion referred to the four leading counsel by the National Debt Commission and the opinions given thereon by the four leading counsel ?
As, according to paragraph 12 of the report, from 1929-30 onwards up to and inclusive of 1934-35 deficits of the States were financed by means of borrowings from the Commonwealth Bank under the security of Commonwealth treasury-bills on the basis of loans for purposes other than revenue deficits, will the Treasurer state whether deficits from 1929-30 to 1931-32 of the State of Queensland amounting to £3,640,409 4s. 5d., being 1929-30, £723,184 17s. 4d.; 1930-31, £842,044 6s. 10d.; 1931-32, £2,075,180 0s. 3d., were financed under this advantageous arrangement?
To-day, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) supplied the following answers to my questions : -
The opinions of counsel referred to were obtained for the National Debt Commission and are of a confidential character. It is not considered desirable that these opinions be tabled but the Attorney-General is prepared to discuss them personally with* the right honorable member.
The deficits of the State of Queensland for the years from 1929-30 to 1931-32, inclusive, were financed by that State from cash resources available to the State Government and were not financed by means of treasurybills.
I consider that the second part of the reply discloses a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. The Auditor-General has certified as to the correctness of the report of the National Debt Commission, which sets out in no uncertain language that the whole of the deficits of Queensland from 1929-30 to 1933-34 were financed by means of treasury-bills. Yet, in his reply to me to-day, the Treasurer, referring to the State of Queensland, said that the deficits were financed, not by the means outlined in clause 12 of that report, but out of unexpended loan money. I will not go into details, but Queensland has been disadvantaged to the amount of about £1,000,000. I shall have an opportunity to deal with that aspect later. My point now is that the two statements are irreconcilable. Both cannot be right. This unsatisfactory situation calls for immediate clarification
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to the fact that wheat-farmers, particularly in Victoria, are suffering a crop failure this year. Their position is not greatly different from that of those who have suffered from bush fires. I refer to the wheat-growers of the north-west of the State who have had a complete crop failure. Throughout the wheat-growing areas of Victoria the season has been very light and, broadly speaking, the crop harvested this year is approximately half the normal quantity for that State. Those wheat-growers have held many meetings, and it has been my duty to send to the Minister a number of communications asking for a grant to assist them to carry on until next year. There is also the factor that payments for the previous two years’ wheat pools have been seriously delayed. Indeed, they have been delayed to a greater degree than is justified by the sales that have been made. The wheat-growers of all sections are probably receiving a smaller reward for their labour than any other section of the primary producers. If the matter is examined carefully, this will be found to be strictly true. Very large subsidies have been paid to certain other sections of primary industry. Those payments are justifiable and right, but in view of the inability of the wheat-growers whose crops have utterly failed to carry
On without finance, there is a definite need that the Minister .take whatever steps are available to him - and there are steps that he can take - to ensure that a substantial sum shall be provided to tide them over by way of a grant, not a loan which will have to be repaid with interest. Another proposal advanced some time ago, which would have met the situation, was the equalizing scheme which it was hoped would have been introduced in the name of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Under it provision would have been made for an equalizing factor, the holding back from time to time of a part of the payments on excess wheat to provide for a stabilizing income in the years when crop returns were light. I hope that that will be seriously considered and adopted in the future. In the meantime, however, I ask that prompt action be taken to deal with this situation. These people, who constitute a large proportion of the wheat-growers of Victoria, are in urgent need of finance to carry on during the current years.
Correspondence that is reaching me is a clear indication that the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank is operating unsatisfactorily to applicants for financial assistance. Indeed, I should very much like to see the figures indicating how many people have applied for loans and how many have received them. It is true that the department has not been functioning very long, but it is equally true that the people have been waiting a long time for facilities of this sort. I believe that the majority of applications have been’ refused. There are several features in regard to the refusal of these loans which are inexplicable to me. In some cases, no reason at all is given by the bank except a broad statement that it was not satisfied with the security offered. In some of those instances the applicant would ask how much short of requirements he was, the idea being that the difference might be found from some other source and a longterm loan obtained in that way. But the department, as a matter of policy, has decided that it will not give the information. I think that that is wrong and unfair, and I should like the Treasurer to have a look at that and, indeed, at the whole policy of the Mortgage Department. It appears to me to be operating on too conservative lines. People who have applied, and whose properties are well known to me and, in my opinion, represent ample security, have been refused a loan. I leave the subject for the present. At a later stage I shall have something prepared on proper lines and I shall give more information, but, in the meantime, I ask the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to look into the matter in order to see if some more liberal policy can be adopted.
– I direct the attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to the extraordinary conditions obtaining under the regulations dealing with real estate transactions. I have received a letter from an estate agency in my electorate. I will not divulge the names in public, but I will let the Treasurer have the names and the facts later. It is of public importance that some attention be given to the extraordinary circumstances governing this one section of the community. I have three cases selected at random that I think the Minister should know something about. I propose to give examples of two big purchases and an ordinary purchase in order to show how the regulations are administered. The first concerns the sale of a property of twelve flats and two garages. The purchase price was £11,750. A valuation was made by a recognized valuer at £12,000. It was presented to the delegate of the Treasurer. Negotiations extended over about three months. I ask the Treasurer to note that period of time and compare it with the short space of time subsequently when a sale was effected. In the first letter, the prospective purchaser was asked the amount of war loan bonds he possessed. In the second, he was asked how much property he owned. The prospective purchaser, a, business executive, was instrumental in his company subscribing £20,000 to the Liberty Loan. He owned a home worth £2,800. His wife owned two shops at Burwood. On the 8th November, 1943, the delegate of the Treasurer rejected the sale on the ground that he owned too much property and that too much margin was provided for the vendor. I can understand the delegate of the Treasurer taking that stand. I cannot, however, understand his subsequent action with regard to the sale of this property, because, when the property was placed on the market, it was instantly snapped up by a wealthy firm whose name I will give to the Treasurer. The price was £11,750, as it was previously in the rejected transaction. The margin of profit to the vendor remained the same. Yet, although the delegate of the Treasurer rejected the sale in the first instance because it gave too great a margin, when it was taken up by a big firm which, as I will subsequently prove, has acquired an enormous amount of property, the question of profit did not enter into the transaction. It must be noted that the decision in the first instance took three months and in the second instance only a matter of a few weeks.
The second case is somewhat similar. The property consists of twelve flats and two garages and is in my electorate. The purchase price was £11,750. The sale was rejected for similar reasons. Immediately the property was placed on the market it was again snapped up - I particularly direct the attention of the Treasurer to this, because it is important - by the same firm as that which purchased the first property. This transaction also was completed within a period of a few weeks. The total amount of the two sales which were effected by the same company was £23,500. Prior to these sales, this company had purchased a large block of flats in my electorate ; and my informant has told me that the purchaser of these flats had bought property worth about £70,000 within the last six months. The procedure in both cases was facilitated because the purchaser had subscribed approximately £250,000 to war loans. If this policy is to be continued, we shall find big financial institutions investing large sums of money in war loans and, at .the same time, taking out large sums in real estate’ investments. The Treasurer must agree that something is wrong with a regulation which gives an unlimited charter for the purchase of real estate to a big firm because it has large holdings and is able to invest large sums in war loans. This will mean that real estate will become vested in the hands of big monopolistic concerns to the exclusion of small investors.
A third case which. I now propose to cite reveals how difficult it is for a person to acquire a property for investment because the existing regulations are inter- preted to the last dot by the delegate of the Treasurer. This is the case of a block of four flats and four garages situated in my electorate, the purchase price of which was £3,750. The man who sought to purchase it did not own any property whatever. He wished to buy the property as a home and an investment for himself and his daughter, who also did not own any property. The father had come from New Zealand twelve months previously, where he had been under medical care a® we’ll as in Sydney. He possessed medical certificates issued by doctors in New Zealand and Sydney to show that he was totally incapacitated. His only means of livelihood was by means of investment. As he could not work he was obliged to earn an income from investment in order that he might not become a liability upon the. community. His daughter is the widow of a soldier who was killed at El Alamein, and, surely, he was a person who should have been given some measure of consideration in the purchase of this property. Her husband had made the supreme sacrifice for his country. These facts were made known to the delegate of the Treasurer, and the contract was presented to the Treasurer on the 25th October, 1943. The man was informed that he would be required to subscribe £1,400 to the war loan. He told the delegate of the Treasurer that all he possessed was a life assurance policy the surrender value of which was £700; and he requested the Treasurer to accept that amount as an adequate subscription to the war loan. His request was refused.
– How did he propose to purchase the property?
– By the payment of a certain amount of money. He endeavoured to obtain an overdraft from the bank in respect of the amount of £700 which he proposed to invest in the war loan, but the bank informed him that it was prevented from lending money on the security of war bonds. Subsequently he appealed to the delegate of the Treasurer on compassionate grounds, but the delegate did not grant his request for permission to purchase. Had the wealthy firm which I mentioned previously again come forward to purchase this property on the open market, I have no doubt that it would have been equally as successful as it was in the two previous transactions.
– On what grounds was permission to purchase refused to this man?
– On the ground that he could not find the total amount of £1,400 which he was required to invest in war bonds. .He could raise £700 ; and he endeavoured to raise the other £700 from the Rural Bank, but, as I have said, his application was refused by that institution. This man’s only means of livelihood, is by means of investment, yet he was denied the right to purchase this property, although at the same time one firm in Sydney has been permitted to purchase over £70,000 worth of real estate. I do not know whether it is the Government’s policy to encourage the purchase of property by big firms. I do not object to that principle if, at the same time, the Government will give like consideration to individual purchasers, particularly in circumstances of the kind which I have just cited. I agree that some control of investments may be necessary, but any such control must be equitable. However, many anomalies exist in this respect. To-day, for instance, a person has full liberty to purchase a race-horse, or bloodstock, or to engage in transactions on the stock exchange; and from such investments to obtain a handsome return. However, should one endeavour to acquire a home, or a block of flats as an investment the Government says, even to dependants of a soldier who has paid the supreme sacrifice for his country, “You must not do that. This is a close preserve for big interests which subscribe large sums to war loans.” Does this mean that the Government will allow big interests to gain an octopus-like grip upon real estate in Australia, and to hold, it as an investment when the war is over? None of the facts which I have given can be refuted. If there is some weakness in the regulations whereby a section of the population is being penalized, because only those who wish to deal in real estate are affected in this way, it is time that the Treasurer amended it in order to give justice to individuals who desire to purchase real estate as an investment, particularly is this the case when an open charter is being given to big interests, which, obviously, are exploiting to the utmost some weakness in the regulations.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) referred to certain aspects of the Financial Agreement, which is, of course, a very difficult and complex legal matter, and quoted what he regarded as inconsistencies. The whole of the points raised in regard to the Financial Agreement have been the subject of discussion between the Commonwealth and State authorities and their legal officers, and those discussions are not yet concluded. I consulted the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) in regard to opinions, and he has offered to give to the right honorable gentleman all the information that he can furnish.
– I appreciate that fact, and do not wish to press that matter.
– As regards other aspects raised to-night, varying legal opinions have been given and have been considered quite recently by the Loan Council. Further consideration is being given to them, and further legal consultations have been taking place between Commonwealth and State officers.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) raised certain matters in regard to the Mortgage Department of the Commonwealth Bank. I shall be glad to let the honorable member have the figures showing what has been done by this institution, but I do not anticipate that he will be entirely satisfied with them, or that he will feel that the new department has done all that was hoped and anticipated. After all, it is only in its infancy and I personally am not in a position to judge whether any individual application has been fairly refused or not. In such matters one has to rely on the knowledge and experience of the department’s officers to form a judgment. What the honorable member really suggests, I gather, is that the policy is too conservative and rigid in regard to valuations and advances. I shall be glad to discuss the subject with the officers of the department, and to place before them the honorable member’s views. As I say, I shall see that all the information available in- regard to the figures is placed before the honorable member. I may add that I have a look at the figures each month myself.
As regards the points raised by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) in relation to sales of property, if there is any instance of “ big business “ gaining unfair advantages 1 shall be very glad to join with the honorable member in seeing that the regulations are tightened up. As to the purchase of homes, the regulations impose no restrictions at all if a person can obtain possession of the place that he proposes to buy. Considerably more liberal conditions are granted to soldiers and their wives, or even to the fathers and mothers who buy on their behalf. There is no restriction on the man who is buying a property and who proposes to work it himself. He can borrow as much as he is able to obtain for the purpose of making the purchase.
– There is a restriction in respect of property. 1 understand that the value of a property must not exceed £10,000.
– I believe that is true. In some cases the limit has been extended, but generally speaking it. is thought that a nian can make a reasonable living on a property valued at £10,000. I shall see that a full examination is made of the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth, and arrange for the Commonwealth Actuary to look into them with me. I have already directed that the report of the honorable member’s remarks this evening shall be made available to me so that I can follow them in detail.
– Will the Treasurer indicate whether he considers that the last case which I cited deserves relief? That is the case of the totally incapacitated man and his daughter, who is the widow of a soldier, and who have been denied the right to purchase property unless they can purchase war bonds of a certain value.
– I gathered from the honorable member that those people were not purchasing the property for a home only.
– For a home and investment.
– That is so. It reminded me of the case of a man who was buying sixteen flats, which he regarded as a home because he was going to live in one of them. We may impose restrictions in cases of that kind. We do indeed put restrictions upon investments. With regard to the purchase of properties by big business concerns, we have shut down heavily on some which are now getting money in from certain transactions in which they were engaged before the war - money which they now want to invest in property instead of in loans. We do not compel anybody to invest in loans. I have heard a great deal in this House about working men who do not make proper contributions to loans, but it was not until I examined the applications under the Land Transfer Regulations that I discovered that a substantial number of wealthy people were not making their proper contributions to the loans either. To them we say, “We are not asking you to put your money into loans, but if you want to invest in property you must make contributions to the loans also “.
– In the case quoted by the honorable member for Wentworth, apparently no new money was being brought into the war loan by the second transaction, and the first deal could have gone through. Could it not be made optional for the vendor in those circumstances to provide the quota required for the loan?
– I do not propose to go into details in regard to all cases. I have dealt with a number of them personally. If any mistake has been made, I take the responsibility. As I have said,, it is necessary to be fairly “ tough “ about this business. If it is asserted that injustice is being done, we examine the cases. I do not pretend that I or my officers do not make mistakes. Perhaps in an excess of zeal in some instances the law may be interpreted in the letter and not exactly in the spirit. I assure the honorable member for Wentworth that I shall have the eases brought forward by him examined as early as possible.
.- The case which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has raised apparently provoked a suggestion from the delegate of the Treasury that to meet his requirements the intending purchaser should realize upon a life assurance policy and invest the proceeds in war loans. I put it to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that one of the most admirable forms of investment is life assurance, and that for quite a few years past the life assurance companies have to a preponderating degree invested their funds from time to time in government securities.
– The Australian Mutual Provident Society has done so to the extent of 7d. out of every ls.
– I think the total is higher than that. To propose to an in-‘ tending home purchaser that he should realize on his life assurance policy in order to invest in war loans seems to me tantamount to suggesting that the life assurance company concerned should sell some of its war loan holdings and pay the intending purchaser in cash, so that he may invest in a war loan. That would not increase the total war loan holding, and the only result would be to make the purchaser lose his life assurance cover. I suggest that the Treasurer and his officers should take that aspect into consideration.
I now direct the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) to a serious condition of affairs that has arisen in the Shepparton district concerning the harvesting of the tomato crop. As honorable members are aware, the Shepparton district has become the largest tomato-producing area in Australia. Officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, in conjunction with other depart ments, have been at great pains in the last few years to organize a very substantial increase of tomato production there. Incidentally, they have found the landholders of the district and. the growers most co-operative, and a big tomato crop is expected this season. But labour for the harvesting of the crop now provides a very real problem. I know that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has been working not only on its own account but also in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service, and the Department of the Army, in an endeavour to provide workers to harvest the tomato crop. However, I received to-day from the president of the Tomato Growers Association, a telegram stating that unless an additional 200 workers are provided almost immediately, 50,000 cases of tomatoes will be lost this week. He suggests, as the only pool from which such labour can be provided, nearby prisoner-of-war camps. As I have every confidence in the judgment of the gentleman who sent this communication to me, I take this opportunity to ask the Minister to investigate the position as a matter of urgency, because a ripe tomato is a. very perishable product, and tomatoes are a most important item in the diet of the fighting services.
– I have been closely supervising the whole of the arrangements for the harvesting of various fruits, and especially the tomato crop. When I was at Shepparton, I inspected some of the tomato crops and I was most impressed by them. A few days ago, officers of my department informed me that the position there was quite satisfactory. Now, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has stated, and I do not doubt his word, that circumstances have arisen necessitating an increase of labour for the purpose of harvesting a considerable portion of the crop this week. Perhaps some of the tomatoes have ripened more quickly than was originally expected. I shall have the matter attended to at the earliest possible moment, and inform the honorable member of the result. I assure him that I shall do everything possible to assist the tomato-growers of the Shepparton district, because the Government is anxious to conserve every pound of tomatoes, if possible.
The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) referred to the possible loss of wheat crops in certain areas of Victoria this year. If the honorablegentleman will submit the facts to me, together with an estimate of the loss sustained, I shall refer the matter to Cabinet for decision.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 29 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.
No. 30 - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 31 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia and others.
No. 32 - Meat Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 33 - Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia.
No. 34 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 35 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 36 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union and Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 37 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 38 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 39 - Fourth Division Postmasters, Postal. Clerks and Telegraphists’ Union; Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia; and Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 40 - Amalgamated Postal
Workers’ Union of Australia and others.
No. 1 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 2 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act- Report by Auditor-General upon accounts of Trustees of Fund, for year 1942-43.
Black Marketing Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 274.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1943, No. 270.
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1943, Nos. 271, 272, 301. 1944, No. 6.
Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 310.
Customs Act -
Proclamations prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of goods- Nos. 589, 590.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 297.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1943, Nos. 258, 287. 1944, Nos. 1, 22, 23.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 10.
High Commissioner Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 300.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, Maternity Allowance Act, Child Endowment Act, Widows’ Pensions Act - Second Report of the Director-General of Social Services, for year 1942-43.
Lands Acquisition Act and National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Orders - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Bathurst, New South Wales.
Birkenhead, South Australia.
Charters Towers, Queensland.
Clare, South Australia.
Cowra, New South Wales.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Deer Park, Victoria.
Dubbo, New South Wales.
East Brighton, Victoria.
East Sale, Victoria.
Echuca, Victoria (2).
Eden, New South Wales.
Essendon, Victoria (3).
Fortitude Valley, Queensland (2).
Gawler, South Australia (2).
Gosford, New South Wales.
Guyra, New South Wales.
Homeville (Rutherford), New South Wales.
Kowguran (Miles), Queensland.
Lake Boga, Victoria.
Laura, South Australia.
Lindfield, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales.
Mallala, South Australia.
Mascot, New South Wales.
Merredin, Western Australia.
Miranda, New South Wales.
Muchea, Western Australia.
Mulwala, New South Wales.
New Farm, Queensland.
Nokaning, Western Australia.
Nowra, New South Wales.
Parkes, New South Wales.
Penrith, New South Wales (2).
Ramsgate, New South Wales.
Sale, Victoria (2).
Salisbury, South Australia.
South Yarra, Victoria.
St. Mary’s, New South Wales.
Swan Hill, Victoria.
Tocumwal, New South Wales.
Torbay, Western Australia.
Townsville, Queensland (2).
Upper Swan, Western Australia.
Villawood, New South Wales.
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
Wallaroo, South Australia.
Wellington, New South Wales.
Werrington, New South Wales.
Whorouly East, Victoria.
Wollongong, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations - Orders -
Fertilizers and feeding meals (Restriction of sales).
Nicotine sulphate (No. 2).
National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations - Orders -
Enemy aliens’ communications.
Exemption of certain Indonesians.
National Security (Aliens Service) Regulations - Order - Exemption of certain Indonesians.
National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations - Order - Apple and pear acquisition 1943-1944.
National Security (Army Inventions) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (2).
National Security (Cash Order and Hire Purchase Agreement) Regulations - Order - Maximum hiring period.
National Security (Chinese Seamen) Regulations - Order - Chinese seamen.
National Security (Economic Organization ) Regulations - Order - Economic organization (Interest rates).
National Security (Emergency Control) Regulations - Order - Dental treatment for civilians.
National Security (Exchange Control) Regulations - Orders - Exchange control (Exemptions), (Money Orders) , (Return of foreign securities), (Sale of foreign currency), and (Sale of foreign securities).
National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Orders -
Distribution of food (No. 2).
Grapes (Restriction of use).
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of -
Building materials (No. 2).
Lights - Revocation .
Overseas postal communications.
Silk and synthetic fibres.
Egg vendors (South Australia).
Navigation and anchor lights (No. 2).
Navigation (Control of public traffic).
Prohibited places (8).
Prohibition of non-essential production (No. 14).
Protected area - Revocation.
Protection of shipping (Accommodation for defence personnel).
Revocation of certain orders made under regulation 59 - dated - 5th October, 1943 (2). 30th November, 1943. 24th January, 1944.
Taking possession of land, &c. (787).
Use of land (24).
Orders by State Premiers -
New South Wales (Nos. 40-43).
Queensland (dated 1st October, 1943). South Australia (No. 5 of 1943). Tasmania -
Direction dated 26th August, 1943.
Nos. 27, 28.
Exemption dated 21st December, 1943.
Western Australia (dated 15th September, 1943).
National Security (Hirings Administration ) Regulations - Order - Application of regulations.
National Security (Industrial Peace) Regulations - Harvest workers award, 1943.
National Security (Internment Gamps) Regulations - Order - Internment camp (No. 10).
National Security (Land Transport) Regulations -
Determination of border station (Warrnambool) .
South Australia (No. 12), Western Australia (No. 6).
National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders -
Employment in rural industries.
Ex-dairy-farmers and farm workers.
Protected undertakings (260).
National Security (Maritime Industry)
Regulations - Orders - Nos. 42-44.
National Security (Meat Industry Control ) Regulations -
Direction regarding Australian Capital Territory.
Acquisition of meat.
Meat (No. 29).
Stock returns (County of Cumberland) (No. 1).
National Security (Medical Co-ordination and Equipment) Regulations - Order - Emergency medical service.
National Security (Mobilization of Electricity Supply) Regulations - Order - Electricity.
National Security (Potatoes) Regulations - Order - No. 15.
National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Declarations - Nos. 126-134.
Orders- Nos. 1210-1413.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 32-37.
National Security (Stevedoring Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 26-36.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations -
Order by Geelong Harbour Trust Commissioners, Victoria (dated 18th November, 1943).
Orders by State Premiers -
Queensland (2 - dated 4th November, 1943, and 18th January, 1944).
Western Australia (dated 24th September, 1943).
Statement of Australian Banking Statistics for the five quarters ended 30th September, 1943.
National Security (Timber Control) Regulations - Order - Control of timber (No. 12).
National Security (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations - Notice - Returns of vegetable seeds.
National Security (War Damage to Property ) Regulations - Orders - Public authorities (4).
National Security (Wheat Acquisition) Regulations - Order - Australian Wheat Board (Selection of wheat-growers’ nominees ) .
Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1943, Nos. 257, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 273, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 288, 289, 290, 293, 294, 295, 296, 298, 299, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317. 1944, Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,18, 19, 20, 21, 24.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 291, 311.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Crown Lands Ordinance - Reasons for resumption of reservation of certain lands near Alice Springs.
Ordinances - 1943 -
No. 4. - Crown Lands.
No. 5 - Aboriginals.
Regulations - 1 943 -
No. 4 (Public ServiceOrdinance).
No. 5 (Motor Vehicles Ordinance).
Peace Officers Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 12.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 286.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1943 -
No. 11. - Noxious Weeds.
No. 12 - Canberra Community Hospital.
No. 13 - Motor Traffic (No. 2).
No. 14 - Police.
Ordinance - 1944 - No. 1 - Crimes. Regulations - 1943 -
No. 6 (Cemeteries Ordinance).
No. 7 (Public Baths Ordinance).
No. 8 (Motor Traffic Ordinance).
Science and Industry Endowment Act -
Report by the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for year 1942-43.
War Service Estates Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 292.
Women’s Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 251.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
Department of Information
Members of State Parliaments Holding Commonwealth Positions
In view of the fact that the Treasury allows brokerage to banks and brokers who collect subscriptions to war loans, will the Treasurer say whether expenses are allowed to municipal councils and other organizations entrusted with the raising of allotted quotas of loans ?
It is the practice of the Treasury to pay commission to members of the stock exchanges, and to banks, for the services given by them in connexion with the raising of war loans. This is payment for services which are a part of the normal business of these people, and where ser vices are provided in this way it is customary for the Government to pay for them. I should mention, however, that the rate of commission payable in the case of war loans is less than the rate allowed before the war. The pre-war rate was 5s. per cent. on the full amount of applications, the rate is now 5s. per cent. on the first £5,000 of an application, and 2s. 6d. per cent. on any amount over that sum. The help given by municipal councils, war loan committees and other organizations to the raising of war loans is not regarded in the same light as the services rendered by institutions whose normal ‘business is finance. The councils and other bodies have undertaken to assist the Government voluntarily in raising money to meet war expenditure, and they have, for quite a considerable period, been meeting their own expenses. I deeply appreciate what these various organizations have done and are doing; it is most heartening to know that there are so many citizens willing to give their time and energy to the war effort as members of these bodies, and to support their committees themselves. However, I realize that in some cases the expenses of the committees fall rather heavily on them, and I have given the Commonwealth Loans Director authority to reimburse expenses where it is manifestly a struggle for a committee to meet them. Although this provision exists, it would assist the Government very much if those municipalities and organizations which can meet their own expenses locally will continue to do so.
National Debt Commission
Commonwealth treasury-bills on the basis of loans for purposes other than revenue deficits, will the Treasurer state whether deficits from 1929-30 to 1931-32 of tho State of Queensland amounting to £3,640,409 4s. Sd., being 1929-30, £723,184 17s. 4d.; 1930-31, £842,044 6s. 10d.; 1931-32, £2,075,180 Ob. 3d., were financed under this advantageous arrangement?
I am now in a position to furnish the following answers to the right honorable member’s questions: -
Will the Minister for Repatriation request the Cabinet to give favorable consideration to the .proposal that ex-servicemen of the last war, who have gone blind since the last war, should have their affliction accepted as a war disability, in the same way as tuberculosis contracted by ex-servicemen since the last war is accepted as a war disability?
I informed the honorable member that consideration would’ be given to the matter raised by him.
I have now had an opportunity to look into the question, and find that for some years special consideration has been afforded under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act to sufferers from pulmonary tuberculosis. This has been deemed justifiable owing to the infective nature of that disease, and the wish of the Commonwealth Government to participate in a tangible manner in a national effort for the prevention and eventual elimination of that scourge. Moreover, the view is strongly held that persons so suffering may be said to be at a disadvantage in the community when seeking employment, even after the disease may have been arrested.
The question raised by the honorable member for Griffith cannot be considered by itself. It is related to the very much larger problem of the acceptance for war pension and medical treatment purposes of all disabilities which may become manifest in an ex-soldier at any time after discharge, and which are in no way connected with war service. This matter has been raised on many occasions during the last twenty years, and the attitude adopted by past governments has been that acceptance of this principle would mean the breaking down of the whole structure of the Repatriation Act and the basis of war pensioning. Therefore, the Government is not prepared to introduce legislation for the automatic acceptance of blindness in soldiers where there is no possible connexion with war service. If blindness is not related to war service, it is a matter for social legislation altogether apart from that of repatriation.
War Damage Insurance
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
BRITISH Parliamentarians in Armed
I desire to inform the honorable member that the High Commissioner in Australia for the United Kingdom has advised that the following are the approximate figures :- - 1. (a) House of Commons (not including members of Home Guard, nor members holding war appointments in government departments or overseas) - 153; lb) House of Lords -167.
The High Commissioner also states that of the 615 members of the House of Commons approximately 375 are over 50 years of age. The comparable figure .is not available for the House of Lords, but the great majority of peers who have taken their seats and who take an active part in the conduct of the business of the House are over military age.
Empire Ant TRAINING Scheme.
What is the cost, or approximate cost, allowing for all items of capital and current expenditure involved, of training in Australia an Empire Air Training Scheme trainee until he qualifies for operational purposes as (a) pilot; (f>) pilot and navigator; (o) air observer; (d) wireless air gunner; and (e) air gunner?
There is no special mustering of Pilot and Navigator.
These costs are based on the number of successful trainees, and include the full maintenance costs of training, pay, allowances, rationing and clothing of trainees, as well as charges in respect’ of capital expenditure on account of works, buildings, aircraft and other equipment.
House adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 February 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19440209_reps_17_177/>.