House of Representatives
30 August 1944

17th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister and Minister for Defence · Fremantle · ALP

– I regret to inform honorable members of the death of Mr. Richard Darcey, a former Senator for the State of Tasmania, which occurred in Sydney on the 26th July last.

The late Mr. Darcey was elected to the Senate for Tasmania at the general election in 1937, and retired from the Senate on the 30th June last, following his defeat at the general elections in August, 1943.

The deceased gentleman was notable foihis deep interest in politics, and his long devotion to social welfare. He made a very keen study of national finance, and was distinguished for his fervent -advocacy of monetary reform. He rendered devoted personal service to many movements in the community which had as their aim the betterment of the people in the spiritual, social, economic, and political spheres. For many years’ he had been a strong supporter of the Labour movement, and worthily represented the State of Tasmania in the Senate, giving conscientious and untiring service in the interests of Australia. Hia sincerity of purpose in all his dealings inspired the esteem and affection of his fellows. I move -

That this House records its sincere regret Rt the death of Mr. Richard Darcey, a former Senator for the State of Tasmania, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to the members of hia family in their bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

– The Opposition supports the motion and greatly regrets the occasion for .it. Ex-Senator Darcey was extraordinarily well liked by members of all parties in both Houses of the Parliament. I always considered that he combined a rare pleasantness and chia mi of manner with the strongest possible attachment to his beliefs, particularly in relation to monetary reform - to which the Prime Minister has referred. He regarded a seat in Parliament as something that would give to him not personal satisfaction but a great opportunity for forwarding the things in which he believed. It is a great tribute to him that he did that consistently, persistently, and strenuously over a period of six years, without ever forfeiting the real friendship and regard of any man with whom he debated. I venture to say that he will be very much missed by members of all parties. Everything that the Prime Minister has said about him is completely shared by those for whom I speak.

Leader of the Australian Country party · Darling Downs

– The Australian Country party associates itself with the sentiments that have been expressed at the passing of ex-Senator Darcey, and with the motion of sympathy with his family. I always regarded the late honorable gentleman as one of the most popular men in this Parliament. He was sincere, conscientious, and straightforward. I can well sum up his qualities by describing him as “ a dear old man “.


– I associate myself with the tribute that has been paid to the lute ex-Senator Darcey, whom I knew for very many years, and support the remarks of the Prime Minister in regard to his activities in Tasmania over a long period. One might not -always agree with his view, but one had to admit that he expressed himself courageously and never missed an opportunity to forward ideas which ‘he considered were in the best interests of this country. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, that he came into this Parliament with the single purpose of advancing the views that he held in relation to monetary reform. I believe that the energies which he expended in that advocacy hastened his end. I support the remarks that have been made concerning him, and pay tribute to his memory.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– I inform the House that, on the 21st July, accompanied by honorable members, I waited upon His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the AddressinReply to His Excellency’s Speech on the opening of the second session of the Seventeenth Parliament, agreed to by the House on the 21st July.

His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply -

Mr. Speaker,

I desire to thank you fur the AddressinReply, which you have just presented to me.

It will afford me much pleasure to conroy to His Most Gracious Majesty the King the message of loyalty from the House of He preset) tatives of’ the Com mon wealth of Australia to which the Address gives expression.

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Review op- Wak Situation - -MAN-POWER

Prime Minister and Minister for Defence · Fremantle · ALP

by leave - The last few weeks have seen remarkable developments in Europe. It will be recalled that, in July, I referred to the strain imposed on Germany by the necessity of fighting on three fronts - in Normandy, in Italy, and on the Russian front. To these three fronts, the landings in Southern France have now added a fourth.

The initial static phase of the operations in Normandy has now been succeeded by a war of movement. The huge Allied force, built up and supplied in the face of most unfavorable weather, has been magnificently handled. The crushing defeat inflicted on the German Seventh . Army has been remorselessly followed up. Such forces as escaped destruction in the Falaise “ pocket “ have been badly mauled. It is clear that the enemy drew heavily on his forces elsewhere in France in a desperate attempt to contain the Allied bridgehead, and the failure of this attempt confronts him with a most critical position. In all their operations in France, the Allies have received great assistance from the French Forces of the Interior, whose activities behind the enemy’s lines have greatly impeded his reactions. Reports from France indicate that they are taking a significant share in the task of ejecting the Nazis from their country. The liberation of Paris marks a milestone on the road to Berlin, and we share with the gallant French people their rejoicing in the restoration to freedom of their beloved capital.

In the south of France, excellent progress has been made. As in the case of the landings in Normandy, an important part was played by paratroops and airborne forces in the initial stages. For the most part, German resistance has not been heavy, and the rapidity of the advance reveals the inadequacy of German manpower for the many tasks with which it is faced.

The liberation of southern France deprives the enemy of one of his most important lines of communication with Italy. The German aim on the Italian front seems to he to delay as long as pos sible our assault on his Gothic line. From the point of view of ‘the Allies, the operations in Italy are important as absorbing a .substantial number of enemy divisions. At the same time, the advance along the Italian peninsula increases the efficiency of strategic bombing operations against south-eastern Europe and improves our communications with the Yugoslav forces across the Adriatic.

In eastern Europe, the remarkably successful Russian offensive in the north has been followed by an equally successful resumption of the offensive in the south. Rumania, whose enthusiasm for collaboration with the Axis had long since vanished, has at last dissolved the partnership. Bulgaria, too, has come to realize that the partnership is not so profitable as it once appeared. Speaking in this House six weeks ago, I referred to Ludendorff’s statement that he was convinced of Germany’s inevitable defeat in the last war when the first cracks developed in the Balkans. The cracks have again developed, and we may rest assured that our Russian Allies will know how to take full advantage of them.

In addition to its preoccupations on the land fronts of Europe, the German High Command is faced with the overwhelming superiority of Allied air power. The British and American Air Forces have been used with devastating effect in support of the operations on land. At the same time, they have continued their strategic task of destroying and dislocating German industry. So effective have these attacks been that the German Air Force has been compelled to reserve its main strength for the defence of the most vital targets in Germany, and this has been reflected in the small scale of the German air effort in Normandy. The German people must contemplate with dismay the prospect which lies before them as the Allies’ advance in Franco brings our aircraft within even closer range of German territory.

Of the war at sea, there is little to be said. The enemy has attempted every device he knows to impede the supply of our forces in France. Nevertheless, our shipping losses have been remarkably light. Moreover, the loss of German bases on the French coast will still further hamper the enemy’s U-boat operations.

At the same time, the enemy’s shipping, on which he must rely to a large extent for the transport of vital materials, has

Buffered heavy losses.

Before turning to the war in the Pacific, I again express admiration of the magnificent courage of the British people under the ordeal now imposed upon them by flying bombs. All reports regarding the damage inflicted by this weapon show that it is, and must necessarily be, directed primarily against the civilian population. Events in France have shown that it will not enable the Germans to escape the military defeat which threatens them. If they had any real appreciation of the calibre of the British people, they would realize that neither the flying bomb nor any other such device could improve the German military prospects, or do anything but harden British, opinion against them.

It is indeed a remarkable transformation that has marked the operations in the war against Germany. When we contrast the present position with that which obtained at the occupation of France and the fall of Dunkirk, we can see how tremendous has been the effort which has been made by Britain, in particular, by Russia, and by the Allies in general. The mounting of the force and the production of the requisite equipment to enable the forces to fight effectively have involved on the part of. all the Allied countries grievous deprivation to their civil life.

The statesmanship which gave direction and inspiration to this great programme and resurgence is probably without equal in the history of the world. I think it proper here to pay tribute to the great part that Britain and the British leaders have played in this amazing drama. To save themselves, they gave their all, but it was essential that they should save themselves if there was to be held out any prospect of liberation for the countries in Europe suffering under German domination. The process of liberation is now unfolding. Great problems arise in respect of the development of stable conditions in the nations from which-the enemy is being driven. These are complex and call for the highest capacity. I have no doubt that the great nations, and once more I say particularly Britain, can be relied on to ensure not only that peoples who have suffered privation and have been deprived of civil government will have relief given to them where it is needed, but also that the requisite aid will he forthcoming to enable them, as early as possible, to achieve national stability.

I say these things because, just as Hitler has been unable to maintain his fortress of Europe, it appears to me now that we are within sight of the time when even his fortress of Germany will be unable to withstand the strength which the Allies will use for its penetration and ultimate destruction. The history of man has witnessed the occurrence of many extraordinary changes within a time period much less than had been planned, but never before have events on so stupendous a scale moved so fast as have those associated with the attainment of military ascendancy by the Allies in the last year.

Just as we are now to he spared what looked likely to be a long drawn-out European war, probably ending at best in a stalemate, so do the happenings I have recited bring to earlier action the steps to end the war against J apan. I ,am happy to say that, in quite recent weeks, very intensive consideration has been given in the high councils of the Allies to the preparations which they are making to share fully in the struggle in the Pacific, because, as I have said, the writing is now on the wall for Hitler and his evil cohorts.

In the Pacific theatre, the favorable progress which I reported last month has been continued. In the SouthWest Pacific Area, the enemy is still being pushed steadily back. Following the occupation of Biak and Noemfoor Islands, American forces have established themselves at Sansapor, on the western tip of Dutch New Guinea, thus neutralizing Japanese bases to the east, whose air and sea communications have been cut. As General MacArthur has pointed out, the enemy’s outlying garrisons on Halmahera and in the Ceram, Banda, and Arafura. Seas are now forced to depend for their supply on small ships, on sailing vessels, luggers, and local small craft. The capacity of this makeshift shipping is not sufficient for even essential items, such as munitions and aviation gasoline. For distribution forward of Halmahera, he is now compelled to rely upon an inadequate barge traffic, which, is subject to heavy attrition in the attempt to evade our extensive air and naval patrol net. The strategic effect of this rapid shrinkage of his sea communications is, further, to threaten the enemy’s vital Philippines.Halmahera defence line. It will be recalled that General MacArthur recently said: “Should this line go, all of the enemy’s conquests south of China will be imperilled and in grave danger of flank envelopment “.

Attempts by isolated garrisons to break through their encirclement, such as the enemy counter-attack at Aitape, have been broken up by Allied forces. The enemy’s casualties in the Aitape- Wewak area during the last month of fighting were estimated at over 19,000 in killed and wounded, and the Japanese Eighth Army of 60,000 has now virtually ceased to exist as an effective fighting force. Since the landing at Sansapor, the practical effectiveness of the Japanese Second Army, to which was assigned the task of defending Dutch New Guinea, is rapidly nearing its end. In all these operations, Allied casualties have been extremely light. The operations in Dutch New Guinea, so far as land forces are concerned, have all been carried out by the United States Army. Units of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force have played an important part in providing naval and air cover for these operations. Australian ground forces have been operating in British New Guinea and have pushed the enemy back beyond the Sepik River. Activity in this region, however, has been on a small scale.

Ahead of our ground forces, our superior air strength is driving the enemy’s air forces back from their forward bases. Japanese air strength in the area from the Solomons to New Guinea, extending through New Britain, has now shrunk to negligible proportions. General MacArthur has now stated that the enemy is no longer contesting the air over the Moluccas. Our air forces have taken full advantage of this withdrawal and are hammering the enemy bases and shipping in this area.

United States forces in the Central Pacific continue to make excellent progress. The conquest of Saipan Island, in the Marianas, which was completed on the 10th July, has been followed by the recapture of the American island of Guam. American forces are now firmly astride the enemy’s lines of communication with his forces to the southward. So rapidly has the United States foothold in the Marianas been consolidated that, on the 11th August, ViceAdmiral Kelly Turner announced the transfer of the head-quarters of his amphibious Pacific Fleet to Saipan. These operations could not have been attempted without decisive naval superiority. The failure of the Japanese Navy to give battle, despite the most persistent provocation, shows that it is fully aware of the superior strength which can be brought against it.

In the South-East Asia Command, the Japanese forces have been defeated in Manipur, and the last organized Japanese fighting force has now been driven out of India. In Northern Burma, American, British and Chinese forces are maintaining continuous pressure, and have recaptured the enemy’s main bases in that area. In addition to the land operations in Burma, the Allied Eastern Fleet has carried out effective operations against the Japanese perimeter in the Netherlands East Indies. Aircraft from the SouthWest Pacific Area and from the Central Pacific Area co-operated in an early raid on’ Sourabaya, and carrier-based air attacks and naval bombardments have been directed against other targets, the latest being against installations on the west coast of Sumatra on the 24th August.

In China, the principal Japanese activity has been in the region of Hengyang. The Chinese troops, aided by United States air support, have fought well, but have been unable to hold Hengyang_ itself. China’s economic position is still difficult, but everything possible is being done to provide it with the assistance it so sorely needs. To some extent, the increased Japanese activity in China is a reflection of the reverses Japan has suffered in the Pacific.

A new element in Pacific strategy has become evident with the development of land-based raids on Japan. After more than two years, General Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo has been followed by heave attacks by the new superfortresses. The principal abjective has been the important industrial area of Kyushu. Japanese targets in Manchuria also have been attacked. The Japanese mainland is now threatened from the Aleutians in - the north, from China in the west, and from the Marianas in the south. The development of these new bombers presages a grim future for the Japanese people.

The successes of the Allied armies in Europe are bringing closer the time when the full energies of the United Nations can be concentrated against Japan.

As I informed the House at its last meeting, during my discussions in London and Washington with Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt and the Combined Chiefs of Staff, consideration was given to the manner in which the maximum effort could be brought to bear, and to the consequential readjustments which would be involved, so far as the Australian war effort is concerned. Agreement was reached as to the lines our effort should take in the shape of fighting forces, the economic basis of the direct military effort, and the contribution to be made towards the maintenance of forces in the Pacific and the provision of food for Britain.

On my return, the Defence Committee was asked to report on the strength that would be necessary to maintain the forces agreed upon, having regard to the urgent requirements of man-power for other war purposes.

In the meantime, the War Commitments Committee, pursuant to its obligation to furnish regular reviews of the man-power situation, has reported on the general man-power trends from October, 1043, to June, 1944, and on the requirements and resources of man-power for the six months ending December, 1944. This review by the War Commitments Committee brings out clearly the extent of the stresses - which nearly five years of war have imposed on the Australian economy. For example, whilst it had been assumed that the total man-power pool would increase by about 2,000 a month, between October, 1943, and June, 1944, it was found that this assumption was not valid. The reason for this was that numbers of men who had returned to work from retirement, or who had, while due to retire, delayed retirement, found themselves unable to carry on. and the abnormal exits from the manpower pool substantially offset the number of new entrants.

During the same period, the effect of the limitation of housebuilding and the accumulated arrears of maintenance in transport services and other public utilities, such as electricity, gas supply, water and sewerage, have created the necessity for returning to these fields some part of the man-power given up by them earlier in the war. There is a shortage of labour in the food-processing industry, and demands for food are increasing. We have undertaken certain commitments to the United Kingdom, and we have also to meet large and increasing demands for United States forces in this theatre, and for supplies for occupied territories being liberated from the enemy.

With regard to rural industry, some 18,000 men have been returned to the rural work force since October, 1943. This, however, is only a small part of the number given up by rural industry between 1939 and” mid-1943, and there is still need for a large increase of the flow of labour to rural industry if food programmes are to be met. The position is particularly critical in the dairying industry.

Government institutions, too, both Commonwealth and State, are feeling the effects of the depletion, of their strength at an earlier period, when the overriding necessity for strengthening the fighting forces led to the release of personnel who could ill be spared. Estimated requirements for government departments, semi-governmental and local government authorities during the next six months are considerable, and at least a part of these requirements must be met.

After the most careful scrutiny of all demands for labour for high priority purposes, the War Commitments Committee has reported that these demands amount to 78,600 males and 17,400 females, or a total of 96,000 persons. I emphasize that these demands are limited to high priority industries and do not take into account the requirements of many less essential activities in which serious arrears of maintenance are accumulating. As it is plain that these demands cannot all be met, the committee examined the absolute minimum of requirements of male labour during the next six months, and reported that this was not less than 52,000 men, made up as follows: -

Even after allowing for net natural increase, service intake and wastage, and some release of skilled labour from defence construction, the committee considers that the deficiency is at least 39.000 men.

The report of the Defence Committee on the strengths of the services has now been received. After consideration of this report, and in the light of my discussions overseas as to the agreed strength of the forces, directions on principles have been given by the Government, the major effect of which is to release 30,000 men from the Army and 15,000 men from the Royal Australian Air Force by the 30th June, 1945. These reductions ave to be made to the greatest extent practicable from nominated personnel, and are to be additional to normal wastage. Of this total of 45,000, 20,000 are to be released by the 31st December, 1944, and will be available towards meeting the deficiency of at least 39,000 men in high priority industries, to which I have already referred.

It must be emphasized that, although every effort is made to ensure that men made available by routine discharge from the forces are absorbed in fields of activity where the need is greatest, many of these men have reinstatement rights which must be taken into account. As I have said, in estimating the deficiency of male labour supplies between now and the 31st December, 1944, account has been taken of the extent to which normal discharges will contribute, and the figure of 39,000 is arrived at after full allowance has been made for this factor. The guiding principle in making the further release from the forces will be the maintenance of the striking forces as agreed upon during my discussions in London and Washington.

Following consideration of the Defence Committee’s report, the Production Executive, in consultation with the War Commitments Committee, is to consider the allocation of the balance of the manpower and woman-power towards the requirements I have mentioned. The total position will then be considered by War Cabinet and the Advisory War Council.

It will be apparent from what I have said that the revision of the basis of the nation’s war effort will require a careful consideration of the various demands for man-power to which I have made reference. Events abroad confirm the view, which the Australian Government has always held, that the war in the Pacific will have to be continued after the war in Europe has been won. It is equally clear that the defeat of Hitler will not imply any lessening of the demands on this country. Indeed, the concentration of the full strength of the United Nations on Japan may create new demands, and may well involve a fresh allocation of our resources to meet those demands.

It may be, as Mr. Churchill has said, that the interval between the defeat of Hitler and the defeat of Japan will be shorter than was at one time supposed. I now believe that that will be the case. The developments which have taken place in recent weeks have given us ground for hope, but it would be foolish to plan on any other basis than that the Japanese will continue to fight with the tenacity and determination which have marked their efforts in the past. Until Japan has been completely and utterly defeated, it is the clear duty of all Australians to continue to put forward their greatest efforts, whether as fighting men or as civilians.

It is a total war in which we have been and are engaged. It embraces the hemispheres of Europe and of the Pacific and all the lands and peoples, multitudinous as they are who, in those countries, live and seek to advance their national life. I have said that I believe that events in Europe are now moving faster than at one time appeared possible. I have said that, because of this, we believe that the struggle in the Pacific is now within prospect of finality. It is, however, proper that I should express my firm conviction that even the slightest relaxation of our efforts will involve an unnecessary prolongation of the struggle. We have travelled so far and done so much that the speed which has marked our recent advance should be maintained and not lessened. The fighting everywhere is finally governed by the strength which is imparted to it from the rear. Armies need reinforcements of men, air forces need replacements of those who have suffered, and navies have to be maintained by drawing upon reserves. All these reserves and replacements come, as they have always come, from those who otherwise would be civilians. We have to replace theranks depleted by the attrition of war. This does involve continuation of the strain which the civilian life has had to bear.

I should be infinitely happy to be able to offer to the civilian community some substantial abatement of its difficulties, but I say that that could be done only at the price of weakening the fighting forces now arrayed in battle in so many places, and thereby giving to the enemy advantages which should be denied to him.

There must be no pausing to enable the forces of Germany and Japan to rehabilitate and reorganize. Our offensive must be maintained at its full vitality and with undiminished energy. Thus I do not offer to the civilian population any abatement of the burdens that war inevitably means. The choice confronts us of relaxation and prolonging the war or . maintaining our concentration and our sacrifice, so lessening the time between now and final victory.

I know that once the people understand that this is the case they will unhesitatingly maintain their determination to see the struggle through with a minimum of delay, even though that means the maintenance of a maximum of effort.

I lay on the table the following paper : -

The War - Ministerial statement, 30th August, 1944. and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.

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Coal-mining Industry.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

– I give notice that to-morrow I will move -

That the Government’s failure to maintain adequate supplies of coal impairs the national war effort; seriously dislocates employment, production and transport; imposes unnecessary hardships upon the community; and deserves the censure of this House.

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Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.

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The following answer to a question was circulated : -


What is the total quantity, in tons, of butter (a) consumed in Australia; (b) exported to the United Kingdom; (c) made available to the United States under reciprocal lend-lease; and (d) stored in Australia, for the years 1939-40, 1940-41, 1941-42, 1942-43 and 1943-44.

Total quantity of butter in tons, 1939-40, 1940-41, 1941-42, 1942-43 and 1943-44-

Consumption in Australia including con sumption by services in and based on Australia, 94.441. 105,155, 108,957, 115,089, and 96,383 to 31st May, 1944 (figures supplied by Bureau of Census and Statistics).

Exported to the United Kingdom, 108,732, 77,843, 46,847, 48,911, 41,564 (figures supplied by Dairy Produce Control Committee).

House adjourned at 3.37 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 August 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.